Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!

What will the Ordinariate look like?
May 7, 2010, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Opinion | Tags:

Although we are unlikely to learn anything definite about the implementation of an Ordinariate this side of the General Synod meeting in July, or even until after the Holy Father’s visit in September, we can gain some clues as to how this might come about from what is happening in other parts of the world. The Anglo-Catholic blog, , has news of approaches made to the CDF from Australia and the United States. The Australian letter to Cardinal Levada from several TAC and Forward in Faith Bishops, says:

“We have read and studied with care the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus with the Complementary Norms and the accompanying Commentary, as well as the initial statement from your Dicastery at the time of your press conference with Archbishop DiNoia. And now, in response to your invitation to contact your Dicastery to begin the process you outline, we respectfully ask

  • that the Apostolic Constitution be implemented in Australia;
  • that we may establish an interim Governing Council consisting of the two suffragan bishops (who serve both the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia and Forward in Faith Australia), the Chancellor and Vicar General of the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia (both priests), a priest from the Council of Forward in Faith Australia, and a priest from among the former Anglican clergy who are now Catholic priests in Australia and who have indicated a desire to be incardinated into the Australian Ordinariate once it is formed.
  • and that this interim Council be given the task and authority to propose to His Holiness a terna for appointment of the initial Ordinary.

We are working with Bishop Peter Elliott, who has been nominated by the Australian Conference of Catholic Bishops to liaise with us in the formation of the Ordinariate.”

The American letter, from a similar group of Bishops, says:

“In response to your invitation to contact your Dicastery to begin the process therein contemplated, we respectfully propose the following:

  • That the Apostolic Constitution be implemented as soon as possible in the United States of America
  • We are establishing an interim Governing Council consisting of three priests from Pastoral Provision Parishes, and three priests (or bishops) from the Anglican Church in America, and we seek your endorsement of the same.
  • That this acting Governing Council be given the task and authority to propose to the Holy Father a terna for appointment of the initial Ordinary.

It is our prayer that these proposals may be of some service in setting in train the process delineated in the most welcome and gracious response of the Holy Father to our aforesaid petition.”

Both petitions formally ask for an Ordinariate, and propose an interim  Governing Council of priests (in each case including former Anglicans already in communion with Rome) whose task will be to suggest three names to the Holy See for the first Ordinary. I would assume that an English petition would be along the same lines.

As and when an Ordinary is appointed, it will be for him to formally receive requests to join the Ordinariate from clergy and laity. There will be a short period of catechesis (led in part by clergy from the petitioning group), and a formal reception by means of “chrismation”. This may be viewed as Confirmation, or else as the completion of ceremonies not (until recently) part of the Anglican rite of confirmation. Similarly, clergy to be received will, if accepted by the Ordinary and his Council, be ordained according to Catholic rites. No one will be asked to deny his former Orders, only to accept that de facto Rome has problems and requires certainty for the future.

The Ordinariate will look more like the present See of Ebbsfleet than a conventional Catholic diocese, in that its parishes will be scattered up and down the country, and the Bishop will be required to work in a more collegial way with his Council of Priests. There will also be a Pastoral Council including laypeople.

One of the basic requirements for an Ordinariate parish will be that it should be capable of supporting the ministry of a priest. It is estimated that a group of forty or so should be capable of doing this. The parish priest will, it is hoped, be helped by retired priests or others who are self-supporting. It is thought that Catholic Dioceses will be in a position to offer church buildings and/or presbyteries which are surplus to current needs.

Former Anglicans who are remote from an Ordinariate parish may still be members of the Ordinariate, and subject to the Ordinary, even if normally they worship in their local Catholic parish. Ordinariate priests may well be asked to help in non-Ordinariate parishes (subject to the Ordinary’s agreement).

It is of the essence of the scheme that the Anglican tradition in liturgy, spirituality and pastoral care be preserved and shared. How this will be worked out in practice remains to be seen, but should be taken very seriously by all involved. This is a fascinating project, and I think will prove rewarding (and at times frustrating) to those who pioneer it.

2 Comments so far
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Really interesting article! Honest!

Comment by Addie Sanderson

Interesting and thought provoking times.

Comment by Bernard Coombs

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