Saturday, December 10, 2011

Church Ascription Upon Conversion


Fr. George Gallaro is one of my heroes. In case you don't remember who he is, you can read his impressive credentials on this previous post. I've written him twice asking him to share his wisdom with all of us through this blog. Twice he has written me back almost immediately with a wealth of wisdom to share.

This is a topic I've received several requests to cover and have seen a lot of confusion over. I'm grateful that Father George shared it here with us and think it will be referenced frequently. I'm also grateful that he took the time to put it into text because I suspect these words will be searched on a regular basis. He gives the canonical low-down on joining a church sui juris when converting.

BAPTIZED NON-CATHOLICS 
COMING INTO FULL COMMUNION 
WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Fr. George Gallaro

The Second Vatican Council declares in its Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis redintegratio) that, when those who have been validly baptized in non-Catholic Churches or Ecclesial Communities spontaneously ask to enter full communion with the Catholic Church, either as individuals or as groups, “it is necessary to impose no burden beyond what is essential.” (UR 18)

The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (i.e. CCEO) in its canon 897 affirms that: “A member of the Christian faithful of an Eastern non-Catholic Church is to be received into the Catholic Church with only the profession of the Catholic faith, after a doctrinal and spiritual preparation that is suited to that person’s condition.” Since this constitutes a very delicate act, it is advisable to ascertain the weighty reasons why one asks for admission into the Catholic Church.

The competent ecclesiastical authority to receive one into full communion is specified in the CCEO in the canons 898-899.

The same Code in canon 35, following the Decree on the Eastern Churches (Orientalium ecclesiarum), declares that: “Baptized non-Catholics coming into full communion with the Catholic Church should retain and practice their own rite and should observe it everywhere in the world as much as humanly possible.” In the case of Orthodox, the new Church of ascription shall be one of the autonomous Eastern Catholic Churches, the closest in its ritual approach.

Protestants who enter into the full Catholic communion are to be ascribed to the Latin Church, since their Ecclesial Communities sprang from the Western/Latin tradition.

The rationale of this norm is mainly ecclesiological: full communion with the apostolic Church of Rome does not imply alienation or loss of the rite, understood as liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony. Canon 35 was written with an ecumenical perspective in mind: to establish and to preserve communion one must “lay no greater burden than necessary” (Acts 15: 28).

The Eastern Orthodox who joins the equivalent Eastern Catholic Church finds the surroundings in keeping with his/her Christian history and identity. That does not mean that he/she cannot continue to attend the Latin Church, even though it is desirable that he/she should be helped to uphold his/her own Church tradition.

Since the text of canon 35 does not explicitly specify if the norm is for validity or for lawfulness, one may infer that this is not an irritating law.

Canon 32 §1, dealing with Catholics who desire to transfer validly to another autonomous Catholic Church, requires the consent of the Holy See. Furthermore, insofar as legitimate ascription to another autonomous Catholic Church constitutes the basis for the validity or lawfulness of certain juridical act (e.g., the validity of a marriage or the lawful admission to a religious institute of another autonomous Catholic Church) one may conclude that canon 35 has a binding force, after all.

Sometimes, a baptized member of an Eastern non-Catholic Church who enters in full communion with the Catholic Church wants to be ascribed into the Latin Church. If so, one must, with the prior approval of the local Latin bishop, seek an indult (i.e. permission) from the Holy See. The canonical reason for such a petition must be serious, e.g., the spiritual wellbeing of the petitioner or the unity of the family when the petitioner is married to a Latin spouse.

The Year in Review

I did this experiment of trying to blog in 2011 while waiting for opportunities to return to video. I thought it was worth trying because I could do more from home, since I needed to be home more this last year, and could provide the same quality information. It didn't work out so well.

One major hurdle I had was in getting responses to interview requests. No one likes cold callers. I didn't know if my emails weren't going through or if the person on the other end was not interested. I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew so I'd wait on one person before asking the next and the lack of response slowed this process down considerably. Another major hurdle I faced was that those who responded favorably were often impressed with my questions and too busy to respond to them in text. Text is more formal, more detailed, more scrutinized, and more involved. After spending the time writing and editing the few interviews which were completed, I would send the final work for approval and it wasn't uncommon to not hear back. Dozens of hours of work sit ready and unpublished, much of which is no longer of particular interest because it was concerning current (at the time) events. People who have wisdom to share are, as an obvious correlative effect, very busy people. I need to be able to have 15 minutes or 30 minutes or 60 minutes or whatever it is that they're available for and then they need to be done, but I didn't accomplish that with the text model.

On a personal front, I am able to write the best questions when I talk with a person and learn what is important and of interest to him or her. I'm also most motivated to work when I have personal connections. Working on my own at home with a computer screen and text was a personal challenge which I did not always conquer.

All of this combined to an end product others were happy to see, but I didn't get requests for more of it. On the other hand, I continue to receive regular requests for my video interviews. This affirmation that the content is what people are interested in and the video medium is where it is best conveyed has brought me back to video interviews. It is obvious that my talents are best used in service to the church there.

God willing, I will be taking videos in the coming weeks and I will be posting video interviews regularly throughout 2012. I've heard you loud and clear and I'm responding to your call! Please pray for me that I continue to seek God's will and that I conform to it so that whatever I do brings glory to Him.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...