Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans

No doubt everyone will have seen this morning`s news about the new structure for Anglican converts to be set up by the Holy See. It will enable them to maintain aspects of their Anglican identity including married priests (but not married bishops). I am very pleased to see that this is going to happen and wish someone had had the vision to set this up back in the 90`s when there was a large influx of Anglican clergy into the Catholic Church. It was discussed then but Cardinal Hume was against it, I seem to recall.

I`m not sure if this means that we will just be accepting married Anglican clergy now or whether new married priests will be ordained for the Ordinariate. I suppose it has to be the latter. That will make for an interesting situation. However I wonder how much interest there will be in England? George Pitcher, the Religion Editor of Telegraph Media has this to say:

All I would add is that this is marvellous news for the Church of England’s prospects for making up women priests to bishops, without creating an Anglican schismatic bloodbath. Traditional Anglo-Catholics, many of whom do not want to relinquish their Anglican identity, have had nowhere to go on this issue, other than conversion to Rome with a complete abandonment of Anglicanism.

Pope Benedict has thrown them a timely lifeline. He has also thrown one to Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. The issue of women bishops, approved by the Church of England’s Synod, was running into the sand, with a controversial proposal this month to impose a two-tier structure, with male bishops still having oversight in dioceses over those Anglicans who couldn’t accept women’s episcopacy. Women priests quite rightly resisted the suggestion that they would be second-class bishops.

Pope Benedict has effectively provided a province that the Anglican Church couldn’t. Traditional Anglo-catholic Anglicans can go there, under the oversight of former Anglican prelates; married Anglo-Catholics might even be ordained into the Roman Catholic Church. There really is no excuse for Anglo-Catholics who can’t accept women bishops now. They must accept the Pope’s offer, or stay in the Anglican Church and accept women bishops. It’s no longer a case of put up or shut up, but rather go with an Anglican blessing, or stay with the Anglican way.

It`s an interesting point of view. What will happen about church buildings? I can`t imagine most Catholic bishops being interested in new ones as they are making plans to close down a portion of what they have. However as these former Anglicans will be under their own bishops and not Catholic diocesan bishops that won`t be their problem.

We could be in for lively times ahead. Will this be a model for bringing back the SSPX? There was talk a while back of a similar structure for the Extraordinary Form so that devotees need not suffer at the hands of unsympathetic local bishops. I`m not so sure that this would be a good idea now as it would make a ghetto out of the EF whereas with Summorum Pontificum it is becoming slowly (and painfully slowly at times), part of the life of the whole Latin Rite.


Et Expecto said...

My reading is that existing married anglican clergy can join the ordinariate and possibly become priests. This is little fron the present situation, except that they will be able to retain some of the Anglican liturgical forms, and have their own ordinary.

I see nothing to indicate that married laymen would be able become priests. Such a system would seem very unlikely to me.

Fr Michael Brown said...

That does sound very likely, Et Expecto, but having an all-celibate priesthood would not really be preserving an Anglican identity. I`m sure we`ll get clarification soon.

1569 Rising said...

Obviously much more detail will emerge from Rome over this stupendous news, possibly one of the most important days in the history of the Church in England. I am delighted for the Anglo Catholics who will have a home to go to after their own church, by way of recent Synod decisions, effectively disowned them. They will bring to the Catholic Church much that is beautiful and devout in their liturgy and music.

There is, of course, a precedent.
"Anglican Use" parishes in the United States have their own liturgy completely in accord with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Uniate Churches have been in communion with Rome for many centuries.

We must wait and see the reaction from, in our part of the world, the Bishop of Beverley and the many Forward in Faith parishes under his episcopal supervision.

Traditionalist Catholics, especially, should welcome warmly a body of people whose devotion to ritual and good music can only enhance our own efforts within the Catholic Church.

Let us all pray for them in the coming weeks and months that they be guided by the Holy Spirit on their journey.

Anonymous said...

Of course, it's not just Anglo-Catholics who cannot accept women bishops (etc) but also many on the evangelical wing of the Church of England. Though I guess we'll see fewer from that side swimming the Tiber.

Amy said...

That is a bold move but beware of the Catholic Church. I used to be Catholic but then I stopped practicing after I found out some disturbing truth. Some say the papacy is the antichrist. They changed the ten commandments which is the Law of God, the Pope claims to be a god, they have killed innocent people for centuries like the Spanish Inquisition and supporting the Nazis, and the priests have molested a lot of children. Jesus would not approve of any of these, it is not Christian, that is evil hiding behind religion. I pray people really to open their eyes. I know I did!!!

Fr Michael Brown said...

Amy, I proabably should have spared you the embarrassment of publishing your comment but I do so to invite any readers who may wish to to pray for you that you may rediscover the truth of the Church of Christ founded on the rock of Peter, which is the Catholic Church.

Foody said...

Father, this is something I have always wondered:
Presumably the only married anglican clergy who exist in the Catholic church are the ones who were already ordained when the decision was made to ordain women in the Anglican church. All Anglicans who have decided after that date that they would like to be ordained presumably either 1. go ahead because they are reconciled with the idea of women priests or 2. don't go ahead because they are not. They can't now become an Anglican priest, then change over later, can they? That seems to be what Et Expecto is saying (but sometimes I get things the wrong way round, especially when people refer to things I haven't read myself.) That would be a back door into being a married Catholic priest.
I haven't read the things you refer to and I don't understand some of the terms, but is there now a sort of little twilight church for these people, which is neither one thing nor another, or something?

About Amy, well there are baddies in every walk of life. Every culture/ religion/ society whatever has killed innocent people.they always have. (Not that I'm saying that's OK!) and I didn't know the Pope had ever said he was a god.

Em said...

Do you have any URLs with any further information on the specifics of the process?
I don't feel I can really comment on this until I am in full possession of all the facts!
I do have a couple of questions though:
1. Will they be using the Book of Common Prayer?
2. What is their current and future (once converted) position on trans-substantiation?

Fr Michael Brown said...

Foody, we will need to wait to see the provisions in detail but I imagine for anyone who is an Anglican priest now who wants to become part of the new structure that will be ok. Not sure what will happen in the future and whether members of the ordinariate who want to become priests will be allowed to be married ones.

Nice blog by the way.

BJR said...


I would be very surprised if any of the possible beneficiaries of this offer used the Book of Common Prayer.

The Book of Common Prayer is harder to find used than old rite Masses these days.

Most 'papalist' Anglicans use either the Paul VI Missal or a variant on the English Missal which was an Anglican adaptation of the pre-Conciliar Roman liturgy.

Ronan said...

As I understand it, these Anglicans are jumping ship because of the women priest/bishop and ordination of openly gay priests. So these folks are happy to be in the communion that was founded on the balls of King Henry VIII, but ordaining women and gays is what pushes them into the Tiber!? Everyone is saying how wonderful this news is, and I'm sure it is for those Anglicans who now have somewhere to go other than the Archdruid of Indecision's flock, and I can understand that Catholic traditionalists and hardliners welcome them as allies against the womynpriest lot, but something abt this leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Someone who only recognises the illegitimacy of the Anglican communion once the ordination of women and gays is tabled is a bigot! There are far, far better reasons to leave that pretendy church than the fact they let the girls and poofs play with the chalices, so i can't help but be suspect of these men who we are going to be welcoming into our Church as priests.

Another thing which rankles slightly is the whole 'Anglican identity' thing. Isn't the CofE's identity founded on the suppression of the true church? I guess this is why they're calling it an act of generosity from the Pope. Where do these guys stand when it comes to the Douai martyrs, for example? Isn't clinging to an 'Anglican identity' something of a betrayal of those guys?

I'll leave my rant at that, but I'll be looking forward to having these discussions with our new clergy!

Foody said...

Oh, thanks, Father!

1569 Rising said...


You raise some very interesting points, as does Em. Let's examine some of the issues. The High Church Anglicans (lets call them Anglos), have been an integral part of the CofE for at least a century and a half, in fact, they can probably trace their origins back to Archbishop Laud in the 17th century.
There has always been this split in the CofE between the Anglos and the Evangelicals, but the lack of any clearly defined doctrine in the church meant that they were able to co-exist easily, each going their own way. But recently, events within the Anglican Communion, most notably in the US, over the ordination of women to the priesthood, and then the episcopacy indicated to the Anglos that the claim by the CofE to be an integral part of the catholic church was seen to be a sham, and that they cared little for unity with Rome and the Orthodox, neither of whom accept female ordination.

So, the Anglos looked increasingly to Rome, and many of their priests came over when the first women were ordained. Apparently the current offer from Rome was on the table then, but was rejected by Cardinal Hume and the E&W Hierarchy, as being damaging to ecumenism.

Forward in Faith was established as an umbrella group for the Anglos, and parishes were put under the care of 3 "Flying Bishops", specifically to cater for the spiritual needs of clergy and parishes who could not accept the ordination of women.

However, it has now become really serious. Synod has voted for women bishops in the CofE. The Anglos realise that their position in the church is irrevocably compromised, and that is why they approached Rome, not the other way on.

Ronan, we should be delighted that the sacrifice of the Douai Martyrs (and others) has born fruit. The church which persecuted them has split, and a substantial part has accepted the Primacy of Peter, Transubstantiation, devotion to Our Lady, the abandonment of Cranmer's Communion Service in the BCP, and most certainly those of the 39 Articles which referred to the Mass as a blasphemous deceit. Convents and monasteries of Anglican religious are fairly common, they go on pilgrimage to shrines and honour saints.

No, This move from the Anglos to Rome is a resounding victory for a Catholic Church which has stood firm on doctrine (if not on liturgy!), and should be seen as the justification for the steadfastness of English catholics over 450 years.

Ronan said...

Mr Rising,

Thanks for the background on the internal politics of the CofE, something I've never had the inclination to look into since a cursory glance at English history shows it's so obviously compromised. I certainly agree that the Martyrs would welcome this development, but still I return to the 'Anglican Identity' thing. What is that identity if not opposed to the Martyrs?
I know that in his letters Boste called the reformed church a 'synagogue of satan' ('finagogue of fatan'). There's something a little off about the RC church accepting that identity into itself, at least without reservation or disclaimer, which perhaps I have missed. It seems like a slap in the face to the actual, real Church in England that endured the reformation. I admit I don't fully understand the Anglican attitude to the Martyrs, as I am aware Durham Cathedral mark their feast days. I'm all for these converting folks keeping their culture, cos Anglicanism is a historical reality that those communities lived through, I just hope that these questions get an airing when Anglican-identifying Catholic priests start performing Mass! I'm no Donatist, and don't want these folks barred, I just want to ask the awkward questions nobody else seems to be asking amidst all the rejoicing!

Even with my reservations as to why they're jumping ship I am prepared to accept that they are fellow sinners along with the tax collectors, terrorists and prostitutes whom the Lord called. The question remains, tho, are these guys crossing the Tiber for valid spiritual or theological reasons, or because we've got the most authoritarian bastard in a cassock?

David Lindsay said...

These clergy, of whom I know many well, are not bringing anyone with them: their parishes are largely in areas with long, or even not so long, folk memories of the tensions caused by Irish immigration.

I have known people become Methodists because the local Anglo-Catholic church closed and they didn't want to go to the next pit village, where the Anglican church was no Lower.

Their buildings are often no older than ours, being in places that only sprang up in the nineteenth century.

The provision for the Personal Ordinary to be an ex-Anglican makes this a one-generation arrangement by definition.

And what, exactly, are the distinguishing marks that they will be permitted to retain? What? And why?

Anonymous said...

Concerning married priest in the new structure, according to a discussion we had at the seminary, it is expected that the Anglican men who are married, can be ordained into the priesthood. This will be maintained, and this will not be a backdoor for married priests from the Roman/Latin Rite. If you are baptized in the Anglican "rite" then you are a member of this "rite" (and I use quotes for a reason). Thus, I, who was baptized in the Roman Rite I cannot be a married priest. This is already the case with the "uniate" Churches. I am already a priest in the Catholic Church, and if I were to ask to be part of the Personal Ordinariate, I could never be married. You will see that this will be the practice in the future. The only ones that will never marry are the bishops, as this is the norm for centuries, even from the Eastern Churches.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Anonymous, that`s how I see it too.