Ordinariates are to have their own "authoritative expression of the Catholic Faith". And it will be the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is perhaps the most revolutionary feature of the Apostolic Constitution, and I suspect its implications for Ecumenism will be teased out for decades to come.
When, in my mid-teens, I joined an Anglican papalist organisation called the Catholic League, I had to sign my adherence to the definitions of all the Ecumenical Councils down to Vatican I (Vatican II being at that time merely a twinkle in the eye of Cardinal Roncalli). Trent and Vatican I were explicitly mentioned. So I thereby committed myself - for example - to the Decree Pastor Aeternus, which defined the Primacy and Infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. I have never regretted this; indeed, it has been a source of inspiration to me for more than half a century. But an Ordinariate will not have Pastor Aeternus as part of its dogma-book (except by remote implication in as far as the Catechism does state that Ecumenical Councils are infallible, and Vatican I was such a Council). It will have the Petrine Ministry as seen through the balancing prism of Vatican II and summarised in the Catechism.
Ecumenical Councils are relativised as they disappear further and further into history. When did you - even if you attend SSPX chapels - last hear a sermon on the Council of Florence? Vatican I - and Vatican II - will, likewise, come to be seen in a more contextualised and embedded way than they were in the raw and acrimonious days after their respective conclusions. AC implicitly acknowledges this. And in the last pontificates, Christological agreements were signed between Rome and 'non-Chalcedonian Churches' - such as the Copts (1973) and Assyrians (1994), communities hitherto suspected respectively of Monophysitism and Nestorianism. This appeared to be an Ecumenism of getting round conciliar antitheses by contextualising formulae. I wonder if the provision for the Ordinariates to have their own "authoritative expression of the Catholic Faith" should be glossed in a not totally dissimilar way.
And what about the status of Apostolicae curae, which condemned Anglican Orders? Is that - or at least, its conclusions - such as to require the assent we owe to faith? Of course, the Apostolic Constitution assumes the juridical force of that Bull in its provision for the 'ordination' of Anglican clergy entering the Ordinarites. I don't think many of us have much problem in giving other Christians certainty about the validity of our sacramental ministrations. I have no objection whatsoever to submitting to the juridical implications of Apostolicae curae. On the contrary. (Although the Commentary printed in Osservatore Romano by a Fr Ghirlanda, which states that "ordinations ... will be absolute, on the basis of the Bull Apostolicae curae " appears to be unaware that in the case of Bishop Graham Leonard, the CDF concluded that there was uncertainty about the invalidity of his orders, because of the Dutch Touch [see in this blog, via Search] since the 1930s. I will return to some practical matters in this area tomorrow.)
But that does not impinge upon the question of whether we have to believe in Apostolicae curae. I have always been intrigued by the fact that the original text of the Bull described the question as idem caput disciplinae, implying that this is ultimately a disciplinary rather than a doctrinal question. There's a Dan Brown story somewhere here: much later printed versions craftily omitted the word disciplinae. I suspect that Cardinal Merry del Val, a crony of Cardinal Vaughan and a fellow plotter, might have had something to do with the change. The mere fact that someone did think it necessary to tamper with the text in this way itself rather implies that he did find the implications of the original text an embarrassment.
But in any case, Apostolicae curae is not part of the Catechism. So it will not be "professed by members of the Ordinariate". And, notoriously, men consecrated Bishop in the Anglican Church are encouraged to ask for the jus pontificalium. That hardly sounds like a desire to rub Anglican noses in Apostolicae curae until ... if you follow me ... the pips squeak.
As I see it, Anglicanorum Coetibus allows the following provisos (among others) to be attached to the initial proposition "We willingly submit to what Apostolicae curae requires of us, but Anglican Orders were ...
(1) not in fact invalid in 1896"; or
(2) were invaid in 1896, but the Dutch Touch dealt with the question".
The good thing, of course, is that the matter will be completely academic. But, whatever the future holds for me personally, I do not envisage ceasing to celebrate June 9 as the Anniversary of my Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood of the Catholic Church.
Before the more uberCatholic RC readers start frothing at the mouth, I ask them to consider the views of Fr Aidan Nichols (1993; the emphases are his), and just check that their own credentials, both academically and as a soundly traditional Catholic, are superior to his. "Those Anglican clergymen who feel morally certain of the sacramental reality of their Orders can draw consolation from the fact that, whereas the practice authorised by Apostolicae curae still continues (since the teaching of that bull remains the thesis in possession), the applicability of its teaching to their own Orders today is not itself unconditionally proposed by the contemporary Roman Church."