Roman Catholic Bishops in England announced today the details of how the so-called "Apostolic Ordinariate" will be set up to receive clergy and groups of laity who leave the Church of England.
The basic process is this:
In January the five active CofE bishops who join the RCC will be ordained Deacon and Priest in the Catholic Church.
During Lent, the retired Church of England bishops who join the Roman Catholic Church will be ordained Deacon and Priest.
During Lent, Roman Catholic bishops will receive congregations or groups of laity who leave the Church of England for the Roman Catholic Church and begin a period of instruction followed by confirmation by Roman Catholic Bishops.
Anglican priests who become Roman Catholics will enter a period of instruction and may be ordained to the diaconate and priesthood starting around Pentecost.
Where these clergy will serve and where these groups will worship will be determined by the local Roman Catholic bishop. None of the former Anglican bishops will continue to serve as Bishops.
The number of clergy and laity involved is quite small compared to the total in the Church of England. About .61%, but the reaction in the news is quite a bit larger than that. The tone of the Roman Catholic leadership is that the process is a pastoral concession to people who have reached out to them.
The full document is found below the fold.
Reaction and early news on the Ordinariate in England & Wales is just coming in from this morning's press conference.
The Bishop of Fulham has issued the following statement, available online at Ordinariate Portal, which is doing a very good job tracking the day's news.
There has been much speculation about the Ordinariate and indeed some negative comment suggesting it would never happen. In the background there have been extensive conversations with the CDF and representatives of the English Hierarchy and I am very pleased with the Press Release (which you can read here) issued today which should answer many questions and is both generous and hopeful.
Whatever your personal view please pray for all those involved.
The Independent has the first long piece of the day, that includes these comments from Archbishop Vincent Nichols:
This is a response to requests," he said. "It's very interesting that yesterday, speaking in Rome, Archbishop Rowan said he did not view this as an aggressive act, so I don't feel guilty.
I think you have to be very sensitive to the point at which people arrive in their lives when they have a profound conviction about where and how they must live their Christian discipleship.
It's out of respect for that imperative of conscience that all of this takes place.
This is not a process of rivalry or competition between our two churches and, indeed, we believe that mutual strength is very important because we have a shared mission, because we have a shared task. We are not in competition over the task of trying to bring the gospel to this society.
The Catholic Herald reports that the bishops have collected a quarter of a million pounds to give the Ordinariate its initial funding.
The Church Times wrote this ahead of the news conference:
The RC Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, and the RC Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Revd Peter Smith, will hold a press conference this morning at the London headquarters of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
A spokeswoman for the RC Church in England and Wales refused to disclose any further details. But the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Revd Andrew Burnham, who, with the Bishop of Richborough, the Rt Revd Keith Newton, announced their resignations last week (News, 12 November), said that he expected the bishops to set out a timetable, and hoped that they would address the provision of buildings for groups who go over.
Bishop Burnham said that it was likely that, to start with, Ordinariate groups would meet in those Roman Catholic churches that were currently “without priests” or “very lightly used”. “We are waiting for the Roman Catholic bishops to talk about it. They are the ones who are making provisions,” he said.
Bishop Burnham estimated that wishing to join the Ordinariate were “a couple of dozen groups”, each of about 20 to 30 people, mostly headed by “a stipendiary priest and usually one retired priest”. This meant that reports of 50 Anglican clerics joining the Ordinariate were probably accurate, he said.
Bishop Burnham said that he and Bishop Newton, both of whom began a period of study leave on 9 October, due to last until the end of December (News, 1 October), had “concluded that the invitation [to join the Ordinariate] was an invitation in its own right and you either say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to it”.
The Telegraph reported yesterday that the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested that there might be some instances where formerly Anglican groups under the Ordinariate might share Church of England spaces and that other parishes might be without vicars after their clergy become Roman Catholics. It is hard to know if this suggestion was much more than the Archbishop thinking out loud about how this process might work out.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Dr Williams insisted that there was “no ill feeling” between him and the five bishops leading the exodus of Anglicans to Rome.
“Obviously my reaction to the resignations is one of regret but respect - I know the considerations they’ve been through,” he said.
“There are still a great many Anglicans in the Church of England who call themselves traditionalist who have no intention of jumping ship at this point, who are at the moment in considerable confusion and distress.
“But they don’t necessarily think if the Church of England isn’t working for them that the only option is Rome.”
For the first time, the Archbishop suggested that worshipers who join the Ordinariate could be allowed to stay in their Anglican churches under a plan to let Roman Catholics share Church of England facilities.
“I think the challenge will come in working out shared use of churches, of how we as Anglicans ‘recommend’ people and also of course there will be some parishes without priests,” he said.
More links to the Archbishop's visit to the Vatican and his response to Ordinariate (before the news conference today) may be found here.
Here is the statement from the Archbishops:
Statement on the Implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus
The Establishment of a Personal Ordinariate in England and Wales
Much has been achieved over many years as a result of the dialogue and the fruitful ecumenical relations which have developed between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. Obedient to the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ to His Heavenly Father, the unity of the Church remains a constant desire in the vision and life of Anglicans and Catholics. The prayer for Christian Unity is the prayer for the gift of full communion with each other. We must never tire of praying and working for this goal.
During his visit to the United Kingdom in September, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was therefore keen to stress that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus: “…should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all.”
It is now just over one year since the Apostolic Constitution was published. The Pope’s initiative provided for the establishment of personal Ordinariates as one of the ways in which members of the Anglican tradition may seek to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. As the Holy Father stated at that time, he was responding to petitions received “repeatedly and insistently” by him from groups of Anglicans wishing “to be received into full communion individually as well as corporately.” Since then, it has become clear that a number of Anglican clergy and their faithful do indeed wish to bring their desire for full ecclesial communion with the Catholic Church to realisation within an Ordinariate structure.
In collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome, the Bishops of England and Wales have been preparing for the establishment of an Ordinariate early in January 2011. Although there may be practical difficulties in the months ahead, the Bishops are working to address these at a national and local level.
Five Anglican Bishops who currently intend to enter the Ordinariate have already announced their decision to resign from pastoral ministry in the Church of England with effect from 31 December 2010. They will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church early in January 2011. During the same month, it is expected that the Decree establishing the Ordinariate will be issued and the name of the Ordinary to be appointed announced. Soon afterwards, those non-retired former Anglican Bishops whose petitions to be ordained are accepted by the CDF, will be ordained to the Catholic Diaconate and Priesthood for service in the Ordinariate.
It is expected that the retired former Anglican Bishops whose petitions to be ordained are accepted by the CDF, will be ordained to the Catholic Diaconate and Priesthood prior to Lent. This will enable them, together with the Ordinary and the other former Anglican Bishops, to assist with the preparation and reception of former Anglican clergy and their faithful into full communion with the Catholic Church during Holy Week.
Before the beginning of Lent, those Anglican clergy with groups of faithful who have decided to enter the Ordinariate will then begin a period of intense formation for ordination as Catholic priests.
At the beginning of Lent, the groups of faithful together with their pastors will be enrolled as candidates for the Ordinariate. Then, at a date to be agreed between the Ordinary and the local diocesan Bishop, they will be received into the Catholic Church and confirmed. This will probably take place either during Holy Week, at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday or during the Easter Vigil. The period of formation for the faithful and their pastors will continue to Pentecost. Until then, these communities will be cared for sacramentally by local clergy as arranged by the diocesan Bishop and the Ordinary.
Around Pentecost, those former Anglican priests whose petitions for ordination have been accepted by the CDF will be ordained to the Catholic Priesthood. Ordination to the Diaconate will precede this at some point during Eastertide. Formation in Catholic theology and pastoral practice will continue for an appropriate amount of time after ordination.
In responding generously and offering a warm welcome to those seeking full ecclesial communion with the Catholic Church within the Ordinariate, the Bishops know that the clergy and faithful who are on that journey of faith will bring their own spiritual treasures which will further enrich the spiritual life of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. The Bishops will do all they can to ensure that there is effective and close collaboration with the Ordinariate both at diocesan and parish levels.
Finally, with the blessings and encouragement they have received from Pope Benedict’s recent Visit, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales are resolved to continue their dialogue with other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities on that journey towards the communion in faith and the fullness of unity for which Christ prayed.