Anglicans who wish to enter into communion with the Catholic Church received the path for doing so today as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) published the papal declaration “Anglicaoranum coetibus.” The document clears up questions about married priests and the power of the ordinariates' bishops among other issues.
The president of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, welcomed the publication of the Apostolic Constitution and accompanying norms saying, “This now makes clear the provision made by the Holy See and enables those who have made requests to the Holy See to study it in detail.”
“It is important to remember that this is a response to requests made to the Holy See by Anglicans and former Anglicans from across the world. It is not a provision specifically for England & Wales and clearly there is much reflection to be done by all concerned,” Archbishop Nichols underscored.
Both the Apostolic Constitution and the norms for implementing it are dated November 4, the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, and are signed by Cardinal William Joseph Levada and Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria S.J., respectively prefect and secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The newly published declaration “introduces a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing personal ordinariates, which will allow the above mentioned groups to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony,” the Vatican press office announced. The Anglican provision is accompanied by a set of complementary norms which will guide its implementation.
The provision is being presented by the CDF as a move to strengthen Christian unity and the diversity of expression of the Faith.
The congregation also pointed out that the Anglican provision is “not an initiative on the part of the Holy See, but a generous response from the Holy Father to the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups. The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church.”
The sticky issue of married priests within the new Anglican ordinariates was also addressed by the CDF, which said, "The possibility envisioned by the Apostolic Constitution for some married clergy within the personal ordinariates does not signify any change in the Church's discipline of clerical celibacy.”
Moreover, married Anglican clergy who wish to continue serving as clerics in the new ordinariates will be required to apply for admission to the Catholic priesthood on a case-by-case basis. Seminarians studying to become priests in the ordinariate will be required to remain celibate.
The CDF reminded the faithful in its statement today that, “According to the Vatican Council II, priestly celibacy is a sign and a stimulus for pastoral charity and radiantly proclaims the reign of God."
The Apostolic Constitution contains 13 sections which concern, among other things: the formation of the new ordinariates; the power of the bishop, "to be exercised jointly with that of the local diocesan bishop in those cases provided for in the Complementary Norms;" candidates for Holy Orders; the creation of new Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; the "ad limina" visit of the ordinary, etc.
Finally, the Constitution says that all Anglican lay faithful as well as members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life must make known their desire to enter into communion with the Catholic Church in writing.
The text of “Anglicaoranum coetibus” can be read here: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=949