11/09/2009, 00.00
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An ‘Ordinariate’ for Anglican priests, even married, and faithful who become Catholic, Pope says

Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution ‘Anglicanorum coetibus’ is published today. It will provide for full communion and preservation of Anglican rites and traditions. In no way does the apostolic constitution contradict the “ecumenical an endeavour of the Catholic Church, Fr Federico Lombardi says.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Anglican priests, even if they are married, as well as the faithful, individually and as communities, can retain, under certain conditions, their rites and traditions if they decide to enter into communion with the Catholic Church. This is now possible after Benedict XVI approved the Apostolic Constitution Anglicorum coetibus, which was published today. In it, the Holy Father has instituted a new canonical structure providing for Personal Ordinariates under an Ordinary.

These do not represent a new structure within existing canonical norms, but, as indicated in a note by Fr Gianfranco Ghirlanda, rector of the Gregorian Pontifical University, released by the Vatican, they are like Personal Ordinariates that apply to the pastoral care of the military with some differences due different circumstances.  In any event, “we are moving within the contexts of structures created by the Church to deal with special situations that go beyond ordinary life and the need of the faithful.”

These Ordinariates are therefore “personal circumscriptions, since the jurisdiction of the Ordinary, thus of parish priests, is not circumscribed to a territory within an Episcopal Conference, like a regular territorial Church, but is exercised on those who belong to the Ordinariate.”

“Just as the Military Ordinariates were not envisioned in the Code of Canon Law, so also Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church were not specifically foreseen. However, just as the Military Ordinariates are described in the Apostolic Constitution Spirituali militum cura as specific ecclesiastical jurisdictions which are similar to dioceses (Ap. Cons. I § 1), so also the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus describes Personal Ordinariates for the faithful coming from Anglicanism as juridically similar to dioceses” with whom collaboration can take place.

In relation to married Anglican priests and bishops, the document says that unless they “are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments”, they “may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church”.

“A married former Anglican Bishop is eligible to be appointed Ordinary,” Article 11 says. “In such a case he is to be ordained a priest in the Catholic Church and then exercises pastoral and sacramental ministry within the Ordinariate with full jurisdictional authority. “

Complementary rules add that the “Ordinary may accept as seminarians only those faithful who belong to a personal parish of the Ordinariate or who were previously Anglican and have established full communion with the Catholic Church.”

In no way does the apostolic constitution contradict the “ecumenical endeavours of the Catholic Church, which continue as before,” Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said.

Instead, the document represents “an effort of putting together the elements characteristic of Anglicanism with full integration in the Catholic Church.”

What is more, the new step, he added, “does not create a new rite within the Catholic Church like the Greek-Catholic or Maronite rites, but is a ‘variation’ of the Latin rite, akin to the Ambrosian rite, which is not a distinct Church.”

In fact, the “Personal Ordinariate falls within the Episcopal Conference, even though it has its own liturgical books, governing council and own rules on celibacy.”

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