Before or on Saturday, when three former Anglican bishops (including John Broadhurst, pictured) are ordained Catholic priests, the Vatican will publish a Decree formally establishing a Personal Ordinariate for England and Wales -- the world's first.
By Pentecost, there are expected to be at least 50 priests and hundreds of former Anglican lay people and religious who are members, more than 18 months since the Pope's historic November 2009 Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus offered a framework for Anglicans and their clergy wanting to become Catholics together, as groups, while retaining existing prayer, liturgical and pastoral practices which are concordant with Catholic teaching.
The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, said today it was a "unique moment" and a "historic development in the life of the universal Church". He said the ordinations at Westminster Cathedral this Saturday were taking place against a background of a "firm, positive and ongoing" relationship between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion and said the Ordinariate would serve the wider cause of unity between the two Churches. He also praised the Archbishop of Canterbury for "graciously acknowledging the integrity of those seeking to join the Ordinariate".
This morning the bishops' conference of England and Wales published a detailed Q&A aimed at dealing with the many questions about the new structure. First, a summary of the main points in the bishops' document; in the next post, an interview with the conference's general-secretary, Fr Marcus Stock.
- WHAT IT IS FOR. The purpose of the Ordinariate is "to maintain the liturgical, spiritual, and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church", seen as both a "precious gift" and a "treasure to be shared”. By creating a structure – in response to many and repeated requests -- which allows for the "mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies" Anglicanorum coetibus is a “prophetic gesture” that serves the aim of eventual full visible unity between the Anglican and Catholic Churches.
- FULL CATHOLICS. Members of the Ordinariate will be Catholics and no longer Anglicans. But they will preserve "many of the spiritual writings, prayers, hymnody and pastoral practices distinctive to the Anglican tradition". The Ordinariate is intended for groups of former Anglicans and their clergy who wish to stay together after being received as Catholics. Any former Anglican who wishes to become a Catholic can continue to do so without becoming a member of the Ordinariate.
- JURISDICTION. The Ordinariate is an ecclesiastical jurisdiction, similar to a diocese, with its own 'Ordinary' -- either a bishop or a priest. But whereas a diocese is territorial, the Ordinariate is personal; wherever a member of the Ordinariate lives in England and Wales, therefore, he or she is under the jurisdiction of the Ordinariate rather than the diocese where they live.
- MEMBERSHIP of the Ordinariate will be former Anglican laity, clergy and religious who will become registered members of the Ordinariate following their reception into the Church. Once they have been ordained as priests and deacons, the former Anglican clergy who have registered will be directly incardinated into the Ordinariate.
- THE ORDINARY must be either a priest or a bishop and is appointed directly by Pope Benedict XVI. Future ordinaries will be appointed by a list of three names presented by the Governing Council of the Ordinariate. The Ordinary is like a bishop in some ways but not others: whereas the power which a diocesan bishop exercises is ordinary (related to his office as diocesan bishop), proper (exercised in his own name), and immediate (directed towards everyone in his diocese), the Ordinary of the Ordinariate exercises power that is ordinary (related to his office), vicarious (exercised in the name of the Pope) and personal (directed to all who belong to the Ordinariate). The Ordinary of the Ordinariate will be an ex officio member of the bishops' conference, will take part in its discussions and decisions and will join bishops for their five-yearly ad limina visits to Rome.
- GOVERNANCE. The Ordinariate will have (a) a governing council of at least six priests, presided over by the Ordinary, half of whom are elected by the priests of the Ordinariate; (b) a pastoral council for consultation with the laity; and (c) a Finance Council. The Governing Council will have the same rights in canon law as the College of Consultors and the Council of Priests have in the governance of a diocese. But out of respect for the synodal tradition in Anglicanism, and unlike a diocesan bishop, the Ordinary will require the consent of the Governing Council in order to admit a candidate to the priesthood, erect or suppress a personal parish or house of formation, or approve a program of formation. The Ordinary must also consult the Governing Council concerning the pastoral activities of the Ordinariate and the principles governing the formation of clergy. The Governing Council will have a "deliberative vote" when choosing a terna of candidates to Ordinary to submit to Rome, or proposing changes to the statutes etc. of the Ordinariate.
- PARISHES. The Ordinariate will have "personal" rather than "territorial" parishes. To be a member of a "personal" parish within the Ordinariate "a person must be a member for which that group was established, ie a former Anglican who is a member of, or has joined, a specific group within the Ordinariate.” A number of parishes may in future be grouped into a deanery. The parishes will be looked after by priests of the Ordinariate, appointed by the Ordinary, possibly assisted by an assistant priest or deacon. Diocesan clergy and religious may assist in the pastoral care of the Ordinariate; clergy incardinated into the Ordinariate will also be available to assist in the pastoral care of the faithful in the local diocese.
- LITURGY. The Ordinariate is not a ritual Church, and is not defined by the liturgical rites it uses. Members can use liturgical rites of the Anglican tradition which have been approved by the Holy See, as well as the Roman Rite. In due course suitable rituals will be promulgated for Ordinariates across the world, but as part of the Latin Catholic Church the Ordinariate will always be able to use the Roman rite.
- BUILDINGS. Ordinariate congregations will mostly use their local diocesan church for celebrations of liturgies; in some cases a church no longer needed by a local parish could be entrusted to the Ordinariate.
- WHO CAN ATTEND MASS? Any Catholic can participate (and receive Communion etc.) in Ordinariate liturgies, just as Ordinariate members can participate in diocesan liturgies, but they remain members of their respective jurisdictions.
- FUNDING. The Ordinariate is expected to finance its clergy, both active and retired, from Sunday collections. A fund has been created to enable the Ordinariate to begin. The bishops of England and Wales have contributed £250,000.
- TIMETABLE. Three former Anglican bishops were received into the Catholic Church on 1 January and will be ordained priests on Saturday at Westminster Cathedral. Two retired former Anglican bishops will be received and ordained in due course. At the beginning of Lent groups of former Anglicans and their clergy will be enrolled as candidates for the Ordinariate, and will be received and confirmed, probably during Holy Week, and continue their formation until Pentecost. Around Pentecost, the former Anglican clergy who have been accepted by the Holy See will be ordained to the priesthood, having been ordained deacons at Easter. These ordinations are being fast-tracked in order to enable a key aspect of the Ordinariate, that "it enables groups of former Anglicans and their clergy to stay together".