Archbishop John Hepworth of the Traditional Anglican Communion has said that about 1,000 Australians are expected to join the Catholic Church through a special jurisdiction created by Pope Benedict XVI.
Catholics, mainstream Anglicans and members of the breakaway Traditional Anglican Communion established a nine-member committee last week to oversee the transition by June 12, 2011.
The Anglicans believe they will be able to retain their church properties, which removes one obstacle to their entry into the Catholic Church, the Australian newspaper The Age reports.
Archbishop Hepworth said that if Anglican priests and congregations do not resign, they might be able to show “beneficial ownership” and keep their properties. He noted that in England the Archbishop of
Canterbury has allowed departing Anglicans to keep using their properties. The Australian archbishop said he hoped the Australian church would do the same.
“It would be the tolerant and godly thing to do,” he said.
The Anglicans seeking entry into the Catholic Church have objected to theological changes in the Anglican Communion such as the ordination of women. Under the Anglican ordinariate which Pope Benedict established in his 2009 apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus,” they will keep their clergy, liturgy and church structures.
Archbishop Hepworth reported that an Australian ordinariate would have churches in all capital cities of the country and in many regional and rural places.
The Traditional Anglican Communion claims 400,000 members worldwide but only 700 in Australia.