The Anglican Patriarchate and the Anglo-Roman Rite

as Intangible Cultural Heritage


St. Peter's Basilica, Rome
Spiritual Home of the Anglican Patriarchate
and Anglo-Roman Rite

  The Anglican Patriarchate represents Old Roman Catholicism (traditional Roman Catholicism stemming from the ancient Roman Catholic See of Utrecht in modern-day Netherlands, formerly part of the Holy Roman Empire, given independence in 1145) of the Anglican Rite, being pre-reformation Anglo-Roman Catholicism. As a result, the unique Anglo-Roman Rite of the Christian faith uses Catholic rites and customs that were once far more common than those used by Catholics today. Modernly known as the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church, the Patriarchate is thus historically and culturally distinct from the modern Vatican Church, which no longer uses many of the ancient Catholic rites of it own origin. Rather, the Patriarchate finds itself the unique keeper of traditional Catholic cultural heritage. In so doing, the Anglican Patriarchate constitutes a distinct minority that keeps that intangible culture alive for future generations in Italy, the British Isles, parts of Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, and the Americas.


The future Pope Julius II (left), who laid the foundation
for the Patriarchate, pictured with his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV

  As defined by UNESCO, "intangible cultural heritage" includes traditions inherited from ancestors and passed on to descendants. Such heritage include social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe. Therefore, today's Anglican Patriarchate, as a representative of the Anglo-Roman Rite, represents a distinct and unique religious activity based on an ancient, intangible world cultural heritage. However, although the modern community organisation of the Anglican Patriarchate is the traditional representative of more than 400 million people across several nations, that number is decreasing, along with the very few people whom are active participants in keeping its ancient traditions alive. Growing tends of globalisation, couple with other social forces make the Patriarchate's expression of cultural diversity in danger and in need of protection. For, an understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of the Anglican Patriarchate and the Anglo-Romano Rite helps with factual historical perspective, leading to better-informed intercultural dialogue, while encouraging mutual respect between peoples and different ways of life. Indeed, intangible cultural heritage is important not because of cultural manifestation, but because of the wealth of knowledge, skills, and traditions that is transmitted through it across the generations.


Pope Leo X, considered one of the
four founders of the Patriarchate

  The intangible cultural heritage of the Anglican Patriarchate and Anglo-Roman Rite not only represents inherited traditions from the past, but also includes contemporary practices grounded in those ancient traditions. Diverse cultural groups such as a wide variety of ethnic minorities around the world take part in its practices.

  Our intangible cultural heritage contains elements that are similar to those practised by others, such as the Vatican Roman Catholic Church, other Old Roman Catholics, and others of Anglican heritage. Yet our practices today remain a distinct minority. They were passed from one generation to another, but declined in numbers dramatically in recent times. Some elements appear to be kept alive only within the Anglican Patriarchate. Yet, the combined intangible cultural heritage of the Anglican Patriarchate contributes to social cohesion and encourages a sense of identity and responsibility within it community and allied organisation, both helping individuals to feel part of that community and society at large. That sense of identity and continuity provides a link from the past to the present and into future.


The Cathedral in Split, Croatia, an important part of the
intangible cultural heritage of the Patriarchate and Anglo-Roman Rite

  Our intangible cultural heritage is representative. Our people depend on knowledge of traditions and customs passed through the community, from generation to generation, and to other communities.

  Our intangible cultural heritage is recognized as invaluable and inherent to us by our community. It is our community membership and hierarchy that create, maintain and transmit that heritage. By UNESCO definition, it is our recognition, not that of anyone else, that defines our beliefs, knowledge, expression, rituals, and practices as our heritage.


Christ giving the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven to St. Peter the Apostle

The Anglican Patriarchate today is indeed a much smaller Catholic community with history, heritage, and location in various parts of the world. However, the Anglo-Roman Rite is remains a distinct culture, characterised by a number of distinct features, including its own unique liturgy based on the pre-1955 Tridentine Roman Rite with Anglican cultural elements. For example, the use of both Latin and liturgical English in rituals; Anglo-Roman, Anglo-Italian, Spanish, and other Latin heritage; Frankish/Germanic heritage; vestments and dress not currently known to be in use in other similar communities anymore; the use of ceremonial colour representation that has fallen out of use in other similar communities; the use of offices within the community of ancient origin but not known to be use in other similar communities today; and the use of various visual and artistic representations of cultural of ancient origin but not known to be in use in other similar communities today. In accordance with its ancient patrimony, women are able to hold certain high community offices often barred to them in other similar communities.


King Peter II of Yugoslavia, who is, along
with his former Kingdom, an important part
of the history and heritage of the Patriarchate

The synthesis of pre-Reformation Anglican practice (Anglo-Roman Catholicism) with the Roman Rite, combined with certain pre-Christian Roman cultural traditions has created a unique blend of intangible cultural heritage in the modern Anglican Patriarchate. The pillar of its identity – the traditional Catholic Church – is believed to be maintained for the Anglican Rite with supreme authority from the modern Anglican Patriarchate under the leadership of the Anglo-Roman Papa, also known as the Archfather. However, despite its maintaining an ancient and distinct heritage, today only a few people have a good knowledge of its cultural heritage, traditions, beliefs, and practices. Thus there is an urgent need to disseminate this knowledge and to involve more people in its preservation by recovering elements preserved only in written documents, film and audio archives, and various depositaries.


The Patriarchate preserves the traditions and intangible
cultural heritage of the Anglo-Roman Rite today

Its viability and very existence is at risk due to cohesion issues stemming from a number of factors, including: geographical dispersion, pressure to change by outside cultures, diminishing fiscal resources, reduced opportunities for physical practice and transmission of heritage, resulting in less visibility and lowered prestige among society at large in much of the world. There is thus a definite need to identify a number of strategic safeguarding interventions so that such targeted efforts will contribute to a more general strengthening of the cultural heritage and identity of the Anglican Patriarchate and the Anglo-Roman Rite and its people.

 

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