Anglicans seeking communion with the Church via the Pope’s unique offer that allows married priests must recapture and understand the gift of celibacy in the priesthood, a global leader of Anglo-Catholics said.
Adelaide-based Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion which claims a global membership of 400,000, said Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus (“Groups of Anglicans”) “challenges us in a most wonderful way”.
“I want to be quite clear that when becoming Primate eight years ago I wrote to my people saying celibacy is part of the unity deal, just start getting used to it. It’s something we have to start learning about,” he told over 100 people at a 26 February festival introducing the Anglican Ordinariate at Como parish.
“Having celibate clergy of people dedicated to God is vital to the life of the Church and can’t be lost. Equally, (the priestly celibacy rule) is not of divine legislation (as St Peter, the first Pope, was married).
“Therefore, it’s something that the Church has invoked as a tradition of its own. It doesn’t have to be like that, and Anglican spirituality revolves very much around the clergy’s family. The clergy not married are usually not parish priests but teachers, lecturers and officials.”
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