There is only one word for this historic announcement - extraordinary. The Apostolic Constitution signed by Pope Benedict XVI will dramatically affect the ecclesial landscape of the entire Christian world. It will also change Christian history going forward. To this observer, who has been writing about these events for a long time and holding firm to the hope of just such an opening while others dismissed it, this is only the beginning of an historic period of Church history, a new missionary age.
Father George Rutler, himself a former Anglican, describes how today's event marks the decline of the liberal wing in the Anglican Church and then goes on to explain its larger significance to the future of Christianity.
It remains to be seen how many Anglicans (Episcopalians in the USA) will be received into the Catholic Church under these provisions, but it is a final nail in the coffin of the rapidly disintegrating Anglicanism at least in the West are will radically challenge Anglicans in other parts of the world.
Perhaps most importantly, it sets a precedent for reunion with Orthodox churches whose Holy Orders the Catholic Church already recognizes as valid.
At a time when the the most active forces in the world appear to be the most extreme wing of Islam and a growing extreme secular/atheist movement, this move toward greater Christian unity may mark a significant new twist in the coming future of humanity.