Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl said in an interview that the Catholic Church has sent out questionnaires to learn more about U.S. Anglicans who have expressed an interest in becoming Catholic. A sufficiently large response would mean the creation of an Anglican ordinariate in the U.S.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has named Cardinal Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, as its delegate to assist Anglican groups who want to become Catholic through the ordinariate, a special church structure similar to a diocese.
“We’re hearing from those Anglican communities and those Anglicans who wish to explore more fully what the ordinariate will mean and who wish to be a part of it,” the cardinal told CNA in a Jan. 31 interview.
The first step is to respond to all U.S. Anglicans who have indicated an interest in the ordinariate and to learn more about them.
“Questionnaires have gone out asking them to identify more clearly who they are and what the nature is of their current community,” Cardinal Wuerl explained. “The goal is to determine whether there is a response substantial enough to warrant the establishment of an ordinariate here in the U.S.”
“We’ve already seen how the Holy See, at the request of Pope Benedict, has established an ordinariate in England, Our Lady of Walsingham. And that would probably be a model for what we would do here in the U.S.”
“We’re a little ways off yet,” he said.
Anglicans entering the Catholic Church will need faith formation, and the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, prepared by the U.S. bishops, will be “at the heart” of that process, Cardinal Wuerl reported.
“That much we can say. We already have the tools.
“Our next step now is to have the Holy See determine whether there are sufficient numbers and sufficient response to establish an ordinariate.”
In recent decades the Anglican Communion has suffered division over theological and moral issues, including the ordination of women as priests and bishops and sexual ethics.
In November 2009, Pope Benedict XVI issued the apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus,” which allowed the creation of ordinariates for Anglicans who want to become Catholic while retaining aspects of their heritage and liturgy.
The ordinariates are similar to dioceses but can be led by either a bishop or a priest. Members of an ordinariate are under the jurisdiction of its leader, the “ordinary,” even if they reside in another bishop’s canonical territory.
The Vatican established the first Anglican ordinariate in England and Wales on Jan. 15. The Catholic bishops of Canada, under the leadership of Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, are currently reaching out to Anglicans in their country.