The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith today released a Note About Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans Entering the Catholic Church. The full text of the Note, in English, is at the foregoing link.
The The New Liturgical Movement posted the Note. Forbes.com has an Associated Press article (hat tip Michael Liccione). More articles at Associated Press, America Magazine Blog, and Damian Thompson's blog in the Telegraph (hat tip TitusOneNine).
The note allows for the creation of Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving "elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony". It mentions a forthcoming Apostolic Constitution which allows for married Anglican clergy who wish to become Catholic priests. Seminarians in the Ordinariate will study along with other Catholic seminarians, while the Ordinariate will be allowed to have its own house of formation to address the particular needs of the Anglican patrimony.
Zenit has posted the response by Abp. John Helpworth of the Traditional Anglican Communion (the Anglo-Catholic body from outside of the Anglican Communion that requested such an accommodation several months ago). Forward in Faith (the Ango-Catholic organization within the Anglican Communion which has previously said that many of its members may become Catholic) has posted a reaction on its website:
It has been the frequently expressed hope and fervent desire of Anglican Catholics to be enabled by some means to enter into full communion with the See of Peter whilst retaining in its integrity every aspect of their Anglican inheritance which is not at variance with the teaching of the Catholic Church.
We rejoice that the Holy Father intends now to set up structures within the Church which respond to this heartfelt longing. Forward in Faith has always been committed to seeking unity in truth and so warmly welcomes these initiatives as a decisive moment in the history of the Catholic Movement in the Church of England. Ut unum sint!
Ruth Gledhill's blog for the Times includes a copy of a response from Bishops Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton, also of Forward in Faith, which is not posted on the Forward in Faith website. In it, they speak about the discussions between Anglo-Catholic groups and the Vatican over the past few years. Acknowledging that some will remain Anglican, and some will choose an individual route, they also wrote that some Anglo-Catholics now "will begin to form a caravan, rather like the People of Israel crossing
the desert in search of the Promised Land."
The USCCB website has posted the response of Cardinal George, president of the USCCB, stating, "The USCCB stands ready to collaborate in the implementation of that Provision in our country." (hat tip Thomas Peters at American Papist).
Vatican Information Service also has a press release today concerning comments of Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at a press conference about the note. Here is the press release:
In a meeting with journalists held this morning in the Holy See Press Office Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia O.P., secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, presented a note on a new measure concerning "Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering the Catholic Church".
Commenting on the English-language note, which has been published by his dicastery, Cardinal Levada explained how, "with the preparation of an Apostolic Constitution, the Catholic Church is responding to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion.
"In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy.
"The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a worldwide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application. It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony".
"The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The initiative has come from a number of different groups of Anglicans" who, said Cardinal Levada, "have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. For them, the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion".
The cardinal further indicated that "it is the hope of the Holy Father Benedict XVI that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: 'There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism'.
"Our communion", the cardinal added in conclusion, "is therefore strengthened by such legitimate diversity, and so we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith".
In a joint declaration on the same subject, Catholic Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster and Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury affirm that the announcement of the Apostolic Constitution "brings to an end a period of uncertainty for such groups who have nurtured hopes of new ways of embracing unity with the Catholic Church. It will now be up to those who have made requests to the Holy See to respond to the Apostolic Constitution", which is a "consequence of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.
"The on-going official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion provides the basis for our continuing co-operation", the declaration adds. "The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) agreements make clear the path we will follow together.
"With God's grace and prayer we are determined that our on-going mutual commitment and consultation on these and other matters should continue to be strengthened. Locally, in the spirit of IARCCUM, we look forward to building on the pattern of shared meetings between the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the Church of England's House of Bishops with a focus on our common mission".