Pope opens ordinariates for former Anglicans to baptized Catholics

July 13, 2013

By Carol Glatz

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis has given the personal ordinariates for former Anglicans a wider opportunity for evangelizing by allowing “uncatechized,” yet baptized, Catholics to join their communities.

While lifelong Catholics were always welcome to attend its Masses, the ordinariate was established in 2009 for communities of former Anglicans who joined the Catholic Church. It was not open to people who were baptized Catholic, unless they were close family members of former Anglicans who became Catholic.

However, Pope Francis approved a significant modification to that rule with an amendment to the norms of Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution, “Anglicanorum coetibus,” which established the ordinariates so that former Anglican could become Catholic while retaining some aspects of their Anglican heritage and traditions.

The amendment was approved by Pope Francis May 31, but the announcement wasn’t made until early July by the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham for England and Wales, and the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter for the United States and Canada.

The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent the ordinariates news of the modification.

The new amendment is now part of the constitution’s “complementary norms,” outlining who is eligible for membership.

While the community remains largely for faithful coming from the Anglican tradition, the modification says: “A person who has been baptized in the Catholic Church but who has not completed the sacraments of initiation, and subsequently returns to the faith and practice of the church as a result of the evangelizing mission of the ordinariate, may be admitted to membership in the ordinariate and receive the sacrament of confirmation or the sacrament of the Eucharist or both.”

The doctrinal congregation underlined that “enrollment into a personal ordinariate remains linked to an objective criterion of incomplete initiation, for example, baptism, Eucharist, or confirmation are lacking” in a Catholic’s life, said a press release on the Our Lady of Walsingham website July 9.

That means that Catholics still “may not become members of a personal ordinariate ‘for purely subjective motives or personal preference,”‘ it said, citing a note by the doctrinal congregation.

The move by Pope Francis “confirms the place of the personal ordinariates within the mission of the wider Catholic Church, not simply as a jurisdiction for those from the Anglican tradition, but as a contributor to the urgent work of the new evangelization,” the press release said.

Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson, head of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter for former Anglicans in the United States and Canada, said he welcomed the new development, “which further establishes our place in the work of the new evangelization.”

North America has “large percentages of ‘unchurched’ peoples,” he said on the ordinariate’s website. Therefore, “it is inevitable that we will encounter those who have no formal ecclesial relationships but who are seekers of truth,” he said.

Bringing the Gospel to all people, “thus becomes more and more the heart of our work,” he said.

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