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Background on the New Ex-Anglican Ordinariate

This is a companion piece to my article today at Austin Catholic New Media. Read more about what the erection of the Ordinariate tells us about Pope Benedict XVI and how it impacts you and your ministry at ACNM.

On January 1st, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith erected the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter for former Anglicans/Episcopalians within the United States and Pope Benedict XVI appointed Fr. Jeffrey Steenson, a former Anglican and now Catholic priest, as the first ordinary.

This is the second “Anglo-Catholic” personal ordinariate established after last January’s erection of Our Lady of Walshingham for former Anglicans in England and Wales. These jurisdictions, in theory, were authorized through the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus of November 9th, 2009 (three years after first suggested being in the works) by Pope Benedict XVI and the creation of these jurisdictions was authorized by him.

The history of provisions to help Anglicans join the Catholic Church spans a bit further.

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Anglican Use Jurisdiction?

There is a rumor floating around that there is a document awaiting review by the Pope that would erect an Anglican Use jurisdiction within the Roman Rite. Such a jurisdiction would be either like Opus Dei, a personal prelature, which have a worldwide jurisdiction over all those who personally belong to them. In other words, there is no geographical boundary and so any member of Opus Dei is subject to their local bishop and the prelate of Opus Dei. If an Anglican Use Personal Prelature was established, I would assume members of Anglican Use parishes would be responsible to the local bishop and the prelate.

This could also take the form of a Personal Apostolic Administration. The only current example of this form of administration is São João Maria Vianney in Brazil, erected in 2002. This is a geographical area that also has a normal diocese, but people, in this case, who wish to practice the faith using the liturgical books of 1962 are subject to the Apostolic Administrator. Like a Personal Prelature, those in São João Maria Vianney are also subject to the bishop of the “regular” Latin-rite diocese.

The Pastoral Provision, as mentioned on this site before, is the provision allowing Anglican priests to convert to Catholicism and be ordained as Catholic priests. As I am aware, these priests are the only priests of the Latin Rite who are currently both married and a priest in good standing. The Provision also allow “Anglican Use” parishes to be erected which are made up of Anglican converts who wish to still maintain elements of their former liturgy. To this end, the Book of Divine Worship, was created as a modification of the Book of Common Prayer.

The provision is directed to the United States with all of the parishes and virtually all of the priests within this country. Canada have a handful of married priest-converts. As the provision requires the approval of the local bishop for the erecting of a new parish or the ordination of a convert-priest, there have been requests rejected in other parts of the world.

With the Pope’s upcoming meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, I’m hesitant to give a good amount of weight to this yet. The Pastoral Provision is just that, a pastoral provision. It allows a method for converts to slowly return to the fold. There are no Anglican Use seminaries; no real way for them to maintain themselves past a generation, short of more converts. Some questions: a worldwide jurisdiction or local? How would this impact Anglican-Cathlic relations in the rest of the world? Either of the jurisdictional options above grant the right for the formation of seminaries and the incardination of clerics, opening the door to a more permanent existence of this Anglo-Catholic provision.

The report does say that nothing will come out of the pipeline until after January 31st.

If I hear anything else, I’ll pass it along.

Follow-up from January 2012: Background on Ex-Anglican Ordinariate