At the Fall General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Donald Wuerl announced that Pope Benedict XVI has officially approved the erection of the Ordinariate in the United States to take place on January 1, 2012. At that time the title of the Ordinariate and the Ordinary will be named. This decree marks an historic change in the landscape of the Catholic Church in America.
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - At the Tuesday afternoon session of the General Assembly for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Donald Wuerl reported that the Anglican Ordinariate in America will be officially erected on January 1, 2012, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. At that time an ordinary for the group will also be named.
The Ordinariate is scheduled to be erected just one year after the establishment of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and Wales. Both intitiatives are being formed through the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, which was announced on November 4, 2009.
About one third of the way through his presentation, the Cardinal brought the ground-breaking news:
"On October 29, 2011, I received a letter from His Eminence Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, indicating that 'in an audience granted to me on October 28, 2011, Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has approved the erection of an Ordinariate in the United States."
"I therefore write to authorize you as this Congregation's Delegate for the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus to address the plenary session of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, due to meet in Baltimore.in order to advise the Bishops of these developments.'"
As one who has been anticipating involvement with the new Ordinariate, I received today's announcement with great delight - and with goose bumps! This is truly an historic day for the Church.
Just as the Eastern Rite jurisdictions have enriched the Church in such a profound way, the Anglican Ordinariate will add yet another dimension to the landscape through Anglican liturgy, music and patrimony.
When I entered the Church in 2006 there was no Ordinariate. The pastoral provision was the normal path for entrance into priesthood for Anglicans but, for that to take place, the man must find a bishop who was willing to take him into the diocese and place him in ministry unless the former-clergyman's parish elects to enter the Church as well.
With the announcement of Anglicanorum coetibus, everything has changed. A new door, by invitation from the Holy Father, has been opened.
Anglican parishes that now choose to come into the Catholic Church and become a part of the Ordinariate will not only have the option to celebrate the Mass using an Anglican liturgy, The Book of Divine Worship; they will also be able to join with like-hearted parishes in a unique Catholic expression that embraces an Anglican patrimony.
The pastoral provision, established by Pope John Paul II in 1980, will continue to operate for Anglican priests who desire to become diocesan priests in the Catholic Church. Cardinal Wuerl stated that Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth, Texas, will succeed Archbishop John Myers of Newark as Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision and that the work will continue.
The Cardinal reported that a total of 67 dossiers have been submitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) for approval since his last report to the bishops at the June meeting. Of those, 35 have already received the "nulla osta" and are approved to move to the second stage of preparation.
Clergy who have been approved (through the "nulla osta" by the CDF) for the Ordinariate will be referred to their local Roman bishop to go through the process of background checks, a psychological assessment as well as getting a letter of support from him.
Once they have finished the formation process, which will be handled through St. Mary's Seminary in Houston, TX, the local bishop will normally ordain the candidates for the Ordinariate.
Two parishes have already entered into full communion with the Catholic Church, one in the Diocese of Forth Worth and the other in the Archdiocese of Washington, in anticipation of the Ordinariate.
Anglican Use parishes that currently are a part of a diocese can request of their bishop permission to transfer to the Ordinariate, once it is up and running.
During a question and answer time, Cardinal Wuerl made it abundantly clear to the bishops that their support has been the key to success.
"This Ordinariate will be a true expression of the Catholic Church because of your support of those seeking to enter," the Cardinal stated. "Your involvement is one of the guarantees of success for clergy and the members."
A question was also raised as to the availability of Ordinariate priests to assist in work around the diocese in which they reside. Cardinal Wuerl affirmed that this was, in fact, something that can happen, offering a diocese additional priestly resources.
The complete text of Cardinal Wuerl's address, with deep thanks to Rocco Palmo of Whisper in the Loggia, follows:
Report on the Implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus
His Eminence Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington
Thank you Archbishop Dolan. With me for this presentation are Bishop Robert McManus and Bishop Kevin Vann, the other members of the Conference's ad hoc Committee on the Implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus. With us, as well, are Father Jeffrey Steenson and Father Scott Hurd, who have worked with the committee.
At our June General Assembly meeting in Seattle, I provided a brief report and update on the progress being made in the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. At that time, I asked for and received a show of support for the material I presented by way of a consultation with the bishops. At the September Administrative Committee meeting, I was asked to prepare an update for this General Assembly meeting which I am pleased now to present.
Between the time of my last report and today, a total of 67 dossiers of Anglican clergy seeking ordination as a Catholic priest have been prepared and sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. To date, 35 have received the nulla osta from the Congregation, which means that the individuals are free to move to the second stage, which includes a criminal background check, psychological evaluation and obtaining a votum from the Catholic bishop where the individual resides and from his Anglican ecclesiastical authority, if possible.
You may recall that earlier I wrote to each member of our Conference to ask for your observations on any Anglican community in your diocese that had indicated an interest in becoming a part of a future Ordinariate. More recently I have been writing to you for those men who received a nulla osta asking if you would collaborate in helping them receive the necessary criminal background check and psychological evaluation. I am grateful for the collaboration of so many of you in not only facilitating these two procedures but for underwriting the cost. I have also written to those bishops in whose jurisdiction lives an Anglican cleric who has received the nulla osta, noting that Saint Luke Institute has generously offered to provide the psychological evaluation at a greatly reduced cost. I want to thank all of you who have already responded in such a gracious manner.
In the meantime, two Anglican communities have come into full communion in the Catholic Church in anticipation of the formation of an Ordinariate. One community was received in the Diocese of Fort Worth, another in the Archdiocese of Washington. On October 29, 2011, I received a letter from His Eminence Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, indicating that "in an audience granted to me on October 28, 2011, Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has approved the erection of an Ordinariate in the United States. I therefore write to authorize you as this Congregation's Delegate for the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus to address the plenary session of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, due to meet in Baltimore.in order to advise the Bishops of these developments."
The Congregation has communicated that the canonical erection of the Ordinariate will take place on January 1, 2012, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. At that time, I assume that an Ordinary will be named and the Ordinariate will begin its work. What lies ahead of both the Ordinariate and all of us who will be working with the new Ordinary includes a number of steps.
For those Anglican congregations who wish to become a part of the Ordinariate, there is a program of catechesis prepared by your ad hoc Committee for the Implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus and approved by the Holy See. This program will be made available through the Ordinariate once it is functioning. Our Conference's United States Catholic Catechism for Adults is designated as the catechetical tool for the review of the faith by those who wish to be received into full communion in the Catholic Church. You may also recall that I asked during the presentation last June if, in an effort to assist this catechetical component, you might be willing to have diocesan or parish catechists be engaged with the Anglican congregation in its catechetical formation during this transition.
As for those seeking ordination as a Catholic priest, the program of priestly formation for them, approved by the Congregation, is based at Saint Mary's Seminary in Houston and is available either on campus or through the University's distance learning program. Again, I want to thank His Eminence Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, for his generosity, wise counsel and support in helping to move forward this formation program. Your Eminence, I am also grateful to the Rector of your seminary and its staff for their collaboration.
In a particular way, I want to thank Father Jeffrey Steenson, a Pastoral Provision priest who was formerly the Episcopal Bishop of Rio Grande, for his assistance in the preparation of the program of priestly formation for those Anglican clerics seeking ordination as a Catholic priest. I also want to recognize Father Scott Hurd, a Pastoral Provision priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, who functions as staff to our Committee. The Committee is deeply grateful to both priests.
At this point in the process, between now and the erection of the Ordinariate, your ad hoc Committee and Father Hurd will continue to work with all of those Anglican clergy who have received the nulla osta to move on to the second stage and to write to each of you involved, asking for your support in obtaining for the candidate the criminal background check, the psychological evaluation, and your votum. I will also ask for your kind assistance in the oversight of catechetical preparation of the communities seeking to join the Ordinariate.
Personally, and on behalf of the committee and all of those involved in the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution, I want to thank you for your keen collaboration and your gracious support of this effort. I remain convinced that this Ordinariate will be a true expression of the Catholic Church because of your engagement in the steps leading up to the acceptance of the candidates for ordination and for your involvement in the catechetical formation of the members of the congregations seeking membership in the Ordinariate. Your involvement is one of the guarantees of the well being of the Ordinariate as it is established and begins to receive both clergy and congregations.
A number of questions have arisen, and I would like to touch briefly on them. If the Ordinary of the new Ordinariate is married, then he can be ordained a priest, but not a bishop. Thus the ordination of priests for the Ordinariate will need to be carried out by one of us. My hope and recommendation is that since the former Anglican who will now become a Catholic priest will live and serve in the diocese of one of us, even though belonging to the Ordinariate, each of us would offer respectively to ordain the new priest. There is no adaptation or change in the Ordination Rite for someone being ordained to the Anglicanorum coetibus Ordinariate.
Discussions are underway with the Military Archdiocese to ensure that those Anglican clergy who serve as chaplains to the military and who come into full communion as a part of the Ordinariate will be available for service in the Military Archdiocese.
Regarding the liturgical provision for Personal Ordinariates, it is important to note that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Divine Worship have established an interdicasterial body which will be responsible for provisions for the liturgical celebrations of the Personal Ordinariates. However, from its erection, an Ordinariate will have the option of using the Roman Missal or the Book of Divine Worship already used by the Pastoral Provision or Anglican Use parishes. Speaking of the Pastoral Provision, Bishop Kevin Vann has been nominated the Pastoral Provision Delegate for the United States and at the conclusion of my remarks I would ask him to share his observations with us.
Finally in concluding these remarks, I want again to thank all of your for your enormous support. It was two years ago that I was invited to Rome for the initial conversations in response to the Holy Father's expressed desire to move forward in a way that would adequately answer the requests for some form of corporate reunion with the Catholic Church. The response of our Conference in immediately establishing an ad hoc Committee for the Implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus and your support, encouragement and practical advice have brought us to the point where in some six weeks time the Ordinariate will come into existence. I hope you know how truly grateful I and your ad hoc Committee are to you. Thank you!
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
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