Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Fort Worth will serve as the new delegate for the pastoral provision, a process that allows former Anglican priests, including those who are married, to become diocesan priests in the U.S. Catholic Church.
The appointment, which was made by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was announced on Nov. 15 by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington at the U.S. bishops’ fall general assembly in Baltimore.
Cardinal Wuerl also announced that an Anglican ordinariate will be established in the U.S. on Jan. 1, 2012.
The ordinariate will allow entire Anglican communities in the U.S. to enter the Catholic Church while keeping certain elements of their heritage and liturgical practices.
Anglican priests who enter the Catholic Church as part of a community under the ordinariate can go through a newly-developed priestly formation program based out of St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston.
However, individual Anglican clergy who choose to enter the Catholic Church can become priests in existing Catholic dioceses through the pastoral provision.
The Holy See established the pastoral provision in 1980. Approximately 100 men have been ordained since the provision was implemented.
In taking on the new role, Bishop Vann succeeds Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, who has served in the position since 2003.
As pastoral provision delegate for the U.S., Bishop Vann will work with former Anglican clergy who have entered the Catholic Church and wish to pursue a call to the priesthood.
He will administer efforts to gather and submit information about each candidate for priesthood to the Holy See.
He will also ensure that the candidates receive adequate theological, spiritual and pastoral formation as they prepare for ordination. Those efforts will be overseen by a panel of theologians that Bishop Vann will create to provide academic assessment and certification of the candidates.
Bishop Vann has several years of experience working with the pastoral provision.
Not long after his appointment to Fort Worth in 2005, he was appointed as vice delegate for the pastoral provision with special responsibility for Texas.
In that role, he saw how the pastoral provision helped foster a strong fraternal relationship between the Catholic and Episcopal Churches.
“I can personally testify to the blessings that the pastoral provision has brought to the Diocese of Fort Worth,” he said.
In September, 24 Episcopalians from four parishes in the greater Fort Worth area entered the Catholic Church at a Mass that Bishop Vann presided over.
The bishop said that he is grateful to serve the Church in his new role.
He explained that although the ordinariate and the pastoral provision function separately and do distinct work, they will complement each other and cooperate to assist Anglicans in entering the Church.
Working together, he said, they will strive to achieve Christ’s desire that “all may be one.”
Corrected Nov. 22, 2011 at 11:33 MDT. Broadens term "Episcopalian" in paragraphs 4, 5 and 6 to "Anglican" and clarifies that the pastoral provision is separate from the ordinariate.