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Cardinal Levada: ‘Union with the Catholic Church is the goal of ecumenism’

Catholic World News - March 09, 2010

In a lengthy address delivered in Canada on March 6, Cardinal William Levada, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stated that the reception of communities of Anglicans into the Catholic Church is consistent with Anglican-Catholic ecumenical dialogue because “union with the Catholic Church is the goal of ecumenism.”

Tracing the history of Anglican-Catholic dialogue since the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Levada noted that Anglican decisions to ordain women and countenance homosexual activity were not consistent with earlier statements agreed to by Anglican and Catholic theologians. “No wonder, then, that the ordination of a bishop in a homosexual partnership in New Hampshire, with subsequent approval by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States in 2003, and the authorization of rituals for the blessing of gay unions and marriages by the Anglican Church in Canada, have caused an enormous upheaval within the Anglican communion,” the cardinal observed.

Cardinal Levada then compared the reception of Anglican communities into the Catholic Church to the addition of an instrument to an orchestra. Professing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, these communities will play the same doctrinal notes, yet will enrich the orchestra with another sound.

“Let me add right away that when I say enrichment I am referring not to any addition of essential elements of sanctification and truth to the Catholic Church,” said Cardinal Levada. “Christ has endowed her with all the essential elements. I am referring to the addition of modes of expression of these essential elements, modes which enhance everyone’s appreciation of the inexhaustible treasures bestowed on the Church by her divine founder.”

“Turning to the Anglican Communion, we can see the many elements that impel toward full unity: regard for the unifying role of the episcopate, an esteem for the sacramental life, a similar sense of catholicity as a mark of the Church, and a vibrant missionary impulse, to name but a few,” he continued. “These are by no means absent from the Catholic Church, but the particular manner in which they are found in Anglicanism adds to the Catholic understanding of a common gift. These considerations help us appreciate the Catholic Church’s insistence that there is no opposition between ecumenical action and the preparation of people for full reception into Catholic communion.”

“ Moreover, among the distinctive elements of Anglican heritage should be included the spiritual and intellectual gifts of the Oxford movement in the 19th century, the then-Anglican cleric Newman together with his fellow Tractarians have left a legacy that still enriches a common Catholic patrimony,” he added.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Mar. 10, 2010 2:15 AM ET USA

    With the still-faithful remnant of the Anglican church edging steadily back toward Rome, St. Edmund Campion must be smiling down from Heaven these days. His prophetic words about the recovery of England for the Church -- "The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be withstood" -- seem finally to be coming true.

  • Posted by: Lilacs2me - Mar. 09, 2010 10:26 PM ET USA

    Same treatment for the SSPX?

  • Posted by: AveMaria580 - Mar. 09, 2010 3:45 PM ET USA

    It's is past time someone said this. Too often ecumenism is taken to mean the weakening of the teachings of the Church and the addition of non-Catholic ritual and beliefs.

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