.- Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl announced today that an Anglican ordinariate in the United States will be canonically erected on Jan. 1, 2012, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.
“I remain convinced this ordinariate will be a true expression of the Catholic Church,” said Cardinal Wuerl, who made the announcement Nov. 15 at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall general assembly in Baltimore.
Cardinal Wuerl is serving as the Vatican's delegate for establishing a U.S. Anglican ordinariate.
He explained that he recently received a letter from Cardinal William Joseph Levada, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, saying that Pope Benedict has approved the erection of a U.S. ordinariate.
Ordinariates are similar to dioceses but typically national in scope. Pope Benedict authorized the creation of ordinariates for Anglican communities seeking to enter the Catholic Church in his 2009 apostolic constitution, “Anglicanorum coetibus.”
They will allow entire communities to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and liturgical practices.
Cardinal Wuerl said that he anticipates approximately 2,000 people joining the American ordinariate when it is established in January.
He explained that two Anglican communities – one in the Diocese of Fort Worth and the other in the Archdiocese of Washington – have already come into full communion with the Catholic Church in anticipation of the new ordinariate being created.
In addition, he said, 67 dossiers from Anglican clergy seeking ordination have been sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.
So far, 35 have received initial approval, meaning that they an now move on to the second stage of the process, which includes a criminal background check, psychological evaluation and vote of support from the local Catholic bishop, as well as from the local Anglican ecclesiastic authority, if possible.
Cardinal Wuerl also announced that the Holy See has approved a catechesis program for Anglican congregations that wish to join the ordinariate.
A formation program for those seeking ordination as Catholic priests has also been approved, he said. That program is currently based at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston and can be completed either on campus or through a distance learning program.
Cardinal Wuerl also addressed some of the practical questions that have arisen as the ordinariate has begun to take shape.
A married Anglican priest can be ordained a Catholic priest but not a bishop, he explained.
As the ordinariate works to get established, it will have the option of using either the Roman Missal or the Anglican Book of Divine Worship. Meanwhile, Cardinal Wuerl said that a committee in Rome is working on future liturgical texts for the ordinariates.
Cardinal Wuerl thanked his brother bishops for the strong support that they have shown for the implementation of the ordinariate in recent months.
“Your involvement is one of the guarantees of the wellbeing of the ordinariate as it is established,” he said.