Part II: A Few Practical Points | Part I: Anglicanorum Coetibus
Because this is a new structure in the Church, and because the situation in each country is quite different, it will take some time to establish ordinariates, but the process is underway and the various unresolved issues are being identified. There are some challenges when the number of potential members of an ordinariate is likely to be very small, at least in the beginning, as is the case in Canada; we can, however, accommodate relatively small numbers. Even the largest ordinariate will be small by the standards of a regular Catholic diocese. Further challenges are found in implementing a program for the reception into the Catholic Church of people in potential ordinariate parishes scattered across vast geographical distances, as is the case in Canada, but these can be met with the help of priests of the local Catholic territorial dioceses.
Having discussed this project with the bishops of Canada at their recent annual meeting in Cornwall, which was the first occasion they had to consider the issue since the promulgation of Anglicanorum Coetibus, I am now receiving inquiries from groups of Anglicans interested in becoming Catholics in an ordinariate in Canada. From March 24th to March 26th there will be a conference in Mississauga for those who are interested in an ordinariate, and that will provide the occasion for further information, and for the opportunity to come together in prayer and fellowship. I have already met with several groups, and it might be helpful if, for the benefit of inquirers, I outline some of the questions that have arisen.
What is the basic unit that forms an ordinariate?
The ordinariate, like any diocese, will be formed out of parishes, and so a group of Anglicans that could form such a parish should discuss whether they wish to do so, and contact me. It is good for an existing group to discuss this at length, and to seek information, in order to understand exactly what is involved in the ordinariate. I refer them to the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus and its accompanying norms, which are available on the Vatican website.
Is opposition to recent trends in sacramental and moral teaching in Anglicanism reason enough to join an ordinariate?
No, that is not a reason in itself for joining an ordinariate, though concern about recent decisions within Canterbury Anglicanism regarding the sacraments and moral teaching may be the catalyst that leads an Anglican, or a group of Anglicans, to want to join the Catholic Church. Becoming a Catholic in an ordinariate, while retaining the noble Anglican patrimony is, however, a positive step, never merely a reaction to something in current Anglicanism. By joining an ordinariate, one becomes a Catholic Christian, who fully accepts the whole faith of the Catholic Church as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, though retaining liturgical, pastoral, cultural, and spiritual traditions of Anglicanism which are in harmony with that faith. For those who disagree with recent trends in Anglicanism, but who do not want to become Catholics, in communion with the Pope and accepting the whole faith presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there are various other options; they clearly would not want to join an ordinariate established according to Anglicanorum Coetibus.
Is the decision to join an ordinariate made by a group, or by an individual?
The corporate dimension of Anglicanorum Coetibus does not mean that whole communities of Anglicans will enter the Catholic Church in a way that sweeps along individuals who may not want to do so. Freedom of conscience must be respected. Although an ordinariate parish is a corporate community (and in the Anglican Use parishes in the United States, we have for several decades had a model of what an ordinariate parish will be like) each member of the new congregation must freely and individually choose to become a Roman Catholic, who will then become a member of a parish within an Anglican Use Ordinariate within the Catholic Church. Although many other members of the group of Anglicans may also at the same time be in the process of reception into the Catholic Church, and will together form an ordinariate parish within the Catholic Church, each person enters the Catholic Church individually, after an appropriate process of instruction, as will Anglican clergy, who must also individually go through a process of discernment and formation in preparation for possible ordination to the Catholic priesthood, in accordance with the pastoral needs of the ordinariate and the Church’s requirements for ordination as Catholic priests of the ordinariate.
What are the next steps to take?
Groups of Anglicans interested in being part of an ordinariate should study Anglicanorum Coetibus and its accompanying norms, and also the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There may also be individual Catholics who were Anglican and are interested in being Catholics in an Anglican Use Ordinariate (as in the United States there are, of course, Catholics who were Anglican and already form an Anglican Use Catholic parish.)
If interested, they should contact the Delegate appointed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (My contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail: 1155 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario, M4T 1W2.)
It would be helpful to attend the conference in Mississauga in March.
I will keep the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith informed of the interest in an ordinariate in Canada, and the Holy See will then decide how best to proceed in order to make it possible for Canadians to become part of an ordinariate.
As we proceed with the implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus, those who wish to form an ordinariate parish will work together with a Catholic priest of the local territorial diocese, who can help them as they go through the process of instruction leading to reception into the Catholic Church according to the plan established by the Holy See. “Both the lay faithful as well as members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, originally part of the Anglican Communion, who wish to enter the Personal Ordinariate, must manifest this desire in writing” (Anglicanorum Coetibus, IX). “The lay faithful originally of the Anglican tradition who wish to belong to the Ordinariate, after having made their Profession of Faith and received the Sacraments of Initiation, with due regard for Canon 845, are to be entered in the apposite register of the Ordinariate. Those baptized previously as Catholics outside the Ordinariate are not ordinarily eligible for membership, unless they are members of a family belonging to the Ordinariate.” (Complementary Norms, Article 5)
It will be important to discuss with the local Catholic priest any marriage issues, and to address in particular the situation of persons who have been divorced and remarried. In due time, each person will individually be received into the Catholic Church. This will involve a Profession of Faith and Confirmation, and the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Clergy will follow the plan established by the Holy See, and the actual way of carrying out the process of discernment and formation will vary somewhat from place to place and from case to case.
The main task now is to determine what groups of Anglicans in Canada are interested in being part of an ordinariate established according to Anglicanorum Coetibus. Those who wish to do so are invited to contact me.
Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto