New Path for Anglicans to Enter Catholic Communion

travel_paris_france_659637_l[1]This morning, the news was released that Pope Benedict has created a Personal Ordinariate in which Anglicans can enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, but keep their liturgy and traditions—as long as they are opposed to women’s ordination and to ordaining openly gay bishops.

Rachel Donadio of the New York Times offers an account of it here.

Austen Iverleigh’s post on the America blog is informative and contains the link to the Associated Press story.

It remains to be seen what effect this move will have on the practical, day-to-day experience of individual Anglicans who wish to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church via the Rite of Reception.

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RCIA image: One at the Table: The Reception of Baptized Christians by Ronald Oakham, et al

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Ronald Oakham, et al

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Will their situations be handled as the reception of Orthodox Christians is? When members of an eastern Christian Church not in union with Rome enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, they automatically are enrolled in the corresponding Catholic community: Greek Orthodox become Greek Catholic, etc. It takes permission from Rome to actually allow someone to become a member of the Latin Rite Catholic Church under such circumstances.

Once this Personal Ordinariate is in operation, will the same situation obtain for Anglicans? Will anyone received into the full communion of the Catholic Church from an Anglican background have to become an Anglican Catholic of this newly created Ordinariate, and be faced with the need to petition Rome if they wish to do otherwise?

Because the Anglican Communion is descended from the Latin Rite (the Catholic Church in the West), the answer would seem to be no. But never before has this sort of entity existed (a Personal Ordinariate), in which the Anglican Church has—so to speak—it’s own household within Catholicism. So there may be some new rules coming.

Stay tuned.

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  1. Interesting thoughts Rita. I also wonder what will happen when an unbaptized inquirer approaches an Anglican/Catholic parish. Will that person be subject to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults?

    For another take on the news, see John Allen’s account in the NCR:

  2. Nick, I think the answer to that question is no. The Anglican liturgy that is being carried over is based on the medieval Catholic liturgy, which was a period in time when the catechumenate itself was dormant and its rites truncated to fit into the one celebration of baptism. To the best of my knowledge, there is no catechumenate in the Book of Common Prayer. There would certainly be nothing like the ritual repertoire we have in the RCIA.

    On a related subject, interestingly enough, the 1962 Roman Ritual, now permitted as the “extraordinary form” of the Roman Rite, contains a seven-stage catechumenate which was the immediate precursor to the RCIA. I haven’t heard of any communities using it.

  3. I think the personal ordinariate is more akin to the military ordinariate (which is what they called it before it became the Archdiocese for the Military Services)than to the Eastern Catholic Churches, so I doubt that someone coming to the Roman Church from the Anglican communion will have to enter the Anglican ordinariate.

    The question about an unbaptized person entering the Anglican Catholic ordinariate is interesting. If they are keeping their own ritual books, they will probably keep whatever the practice is now. I think their equivalent of the RCIA is not an official rite.

    What kind of formation will we have for an Anglican Roman Catholic who wishes to become part of a not-Anglican Roman parish (even the language is going to be interesting in all this).

    I’m also curious about what authority a local bishop has if they are part of another bishop’s ordinariate.

    So many questions.

  4. Yes, there are lots of questions! Here’s another: What to do about the status of Confirmation in the Anglican Church? Currently, Rome does not accept it as valid. Will we reconfirm all of them in the Personal Ordinariate, just as we have been re-ordaining their priests?

    Vicky, you may be right that the analogy to the Eastern Churches does not hold, but to the extent that there is a group here that is interested in preserving its distinctive tradtions, I think there is a comparison to be made. I do not think the military ordinariate is an apt analogy, as the military does not have their own “religious patrimony” or liturgical rites. Of course, perhaps there will be a parallel in terms of administration, in that it will work independently of the local diocese. The Personal Ordinariate for the disaffected Anglicans has been compared to Opus Dei. I don’t know if that’s correct either, but I offer it for reflection!

    I’ve got a copy of the document the Episcopal Church in the USA uses for their catechumenate, which as you note is optional, but I can’t seem to lay my hand on it right now. I’m uncertain as to whether it “counts” however, since it is so new. Which documents will be considered the religious patrimony, and which are not, remains a mystery to me. I can’t imagine some of their new eucharistic prayers being accepted, for example. We shall see.

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