Interview: Fr Dwight Longenecker On the Personal Ordinariates for Former Anglicans
The Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans offers great potential for evangelicals seeking full communion with the Catholic Church
What interests me is the possibility that in the future these new 'Anglican Catholic' churches might attract significant numbers of non-Anglican Protestants. I know from my experience of Evangelical Christianity that there are many traditional Evangelicals who long for a liturgical, historical and traditional church. They may well find an 'Anglican Catholic' congregation to be an easy way into full communion with the Catholic Church.
GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) - The global readership of Catholic Online is very familiar with Fr Dwight Longenecker. He is one of our favorite guest contributors.
We have extensively covered the Ordinariates established through an Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans seeking full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining much of their patrimony. We caught up with Fr Dwight and asked him a few questions conncerning the Ordinariates. His responses are insightful and inspiring:
Q: Last year in England the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was erected. A few weeks ago here in the USA the Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter was established. Can you explain what this is all about?
A: An "Ordinariate" is a special structure within the Catholic Church which allows jurisdiction for a group of Catholics who are outside the normal geographical boundaries of the Diocesan system. For example there is a "Military Ordinariate" for all those who live and work within the military, but who move from place to place. These personal ordinariates are being established for groups of Christians from the Anglican tradition to come into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining their some of their own customs and traditions. These are being called "Anglican Ordinariates."
Q: Pope Benedict XVI made the move to establish the Anglican Ordinariates. What prompted that action?
A: The answer is in the opening sentence of Anglicanorum Coetibus -- the Apostolic Constitution which established the ordinariate: "In recent times the Holy Spirit has moved groups of Anglicans to petition repeatedly and insistently to be received into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately."
Since the early 1990s when the Church of England decided to ordain women as priests Anglicans have asked the Vatican for some sort of provision whereby they could come into full communion while still retaining some autonomy and their own Anglican traditions. As the Anglican communion moved towards women bishops, homosexual marriage, acceptance of re-marriage after divorce and other un traditional moral and doctrinal positions, the calls became more frequent, numerous and insistent. The Holy Father is simply responding to these pleas.
Q: The apostolic constitution announcing the new provisions speaks of establishing "personal ordinariates." What kind of canonical structures are they?
A: The Holy See is granting Anglican converts their own mini-hierarchy which answers directly to Rome. The man in charge will be called the "Ordinary" He will be a former Anglican priest or bishop. If he is celibate he may be a bishop, but if married he will not be consecrated as bishop. This is so that a married man may be asked to fill the role of ordinary. Nevertheless, (apart from conducting ordinations) the ordinary will have the virtual status of a bishop within the ordinariate. He will be able to erect parishes, appoint clergy and serve as pastor of the Anglicans in his area.
Think of the arrangement of some of the Eastern Rite churches. They have a bishop or archbishop who oversees a large area. They have their own rite and their own traditions, but they are in full communion with the Holy See. For canonical reasons, the Anglican Ordinariate is not quite the same, but it is similar.
Q: What would be the relationship between these ordinariates and the dioceses with whose territories they overlap?
A: The Anglican Ordinariate will overlap geographically with existing Catholic dioceses. The Anglican ordinary will oversee priests who are incardinated to the ordinariate. The Ordinary and his priests are called on to co operate fully with the Catholic diocesan bishops and their fellow Latin Rite priests for the good of the whole church.
Q: How does this arrangement differ from the canonical structure of the Eastern Catholic Churches?
A: The Eastern Rite Churches have more autonomy. Also, they have bishops who are not married. The Anglican ordinary may be a married man. This means he is not a bishop. Most importantly, the Eastern Rite churches have their own liturgical rite which has its own historical integrity. The Anglicans will use an 'Anglican style' liturgy which has been theologically corrected and approved by Rome. Historically the Anglican liturgy has been derived from the Latin Rite. Therefore it is rightly called an 'Anglican Use' liturgy of the Roman Rite.
Q: What is the Pastoral Provision and how does this interact with the Anglican Ordinariate?
A: The Pastoral Provision is a process established by the Vatican in the 1980s to allow married former Episcopal priests to be re-trained and dispensed from the vow of celibacy to be ordained as Catholic priests. A similar procedure was then adopted by bishops in England and other ...
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