Pope Paul VI to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Michael Ramsey

"(B)y entering into our house, you are entering your own house, we are happy to open our door and heart to you." - Pope Paul VI to Dr Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

How to apply to the Ordinariate and some thoughts on the Ordinariate

Our good friend Mr Shane Schaetzel sent us a Facebook message with an important link to the St Augustine of Canterbury Society. This is with regards to the Holy See giving the go ahead for the US Ordinariate. Anglicanorum Coetibus says that anyone wishing to join the Anglican Ordinariate must manifest their intention  in writing to the appointed delegate responsible for this. Our friends from St Augustine posted examples of application form letters which could be found here.

The letters cover all sorts of situations which a person who has truly found his/her calling in Anglican Catholicism. You have letters for Episcopalians/Anglicans, non Catholic Christians, Roman Catholics who were former Anglicans, Roman Catholics who were former non Catholics but not from Anglicanism,  and ta dahhhh (drumrolls), Roman Catholics who were Roman Catholics and still are Roman Catholics and who would want to be Roman Catholics again but with an Anglican flavour!

In the last category, belongs dear old me. I belong to the first generation of Novus Ordo babies. In fact Novus Ordo is as almost old as I am! The only sacrament I received in Latin was baptism when my Mother insisted that I get the sacrament from the Jesuits.  I cannot at all remember a Tridentine Liturgy. Not even the 16 mm film my uncle took of the christening can help me recall. The damn film clip is as good as a silent movie! Then not long after that the New Rite of baptism was introduced. Growing up, I remember alternating attendance at Roman Rite Novus Ordo Masses and the 1928 BCP services. But  almost immediately int he 1970s the 1928 services went the way of the Latin Mass for the more trendy 1979 American Prayer Book (whose Rite II Eucharist is not that different from the Roman Novus Ordo,)

The experience  of  my generation of Catholics was best and most hilariously told in the "Growing up Catholic" series of books.  My best friend who belongs to a family of Episcopalians and Roman Catholics and also alternated between Novus Ordo and BCP as a boy, has all the books. The part in which the authors ask the two important questions

"Who do you wish were Catholic?"

Answer: "All Episcopalians"


"Who do you wish were not Catholic?"

Answer: "Madonna"

Always had me in stitches!

It is said that Anglicanorum Coetibus  and its norms were designed for TAC (which must be eternally lauded for having the courage to write our Pope), and since it wouldn't be polite to exclude the Anglican Communion and the other Continuing Anglican Churches from its coverage, it was understood that people from these communions can join the ordinariate. However the AC was never meant for Roman Catholics (after all, how could you join the Roman Church if you are already in the Roman Church?)

But it appears that  vast majority of interest in joining the ordinariates are from Roman Catholics, followed by Christians of other denominations. While many Anglo-Catholics have signified their intention, their numbers are small compared to the Roman Catholics who want to join. Many Anglo-Catholics still waffle at the Papal offer, but many Roman Catholics will gladly have the Holy Waffle for breakfast! Now we will have to see how Rome will deal with this. Many priests (Anglican and Roman Catholic) have told me that it would make bad pastoral sense if Rome does not allow Roman Catholics to join the Anglican Ordinariate.

The Anglican Ordinariate being equivalent to a territorial diocese is a particular church. And as Pope John Paul II preached in his homily celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Church of Manila in 1996 " The Church is a living body. As any living body, she comes to a stage of maturity when she can give life to other Churches like herself" The Ordinariate will give life to other Churches, all in communion with the Church that gave life to her, the Church of Rome. By the same witness, the Ordinariate may in God's time bring back the Church of England and the churches that she gave life to (this I say includes TEC!)  to communion with the Church that first gave life to her, the Church of Rome.

The Philippine Anglican Use group is an example of what Rome did not expect. Episcopalians, cradle Roman Catholics, Protestants and even at least one Orthodox Christian have signified interest in joining. And this in a country where the Anglican presence is small as the nation has an overwhelming Roman Catholic majority. This is what Father Longenecker calls the "Springfield Spirit".  But  will there be a Filipino Anglican Ordinariate?

I believe there will be. It may be beyond what AC mandates at present since it will bring in more than Anglicans. It all takes is the faith the size of a mustard seed!


  1. Ben,

    Good post. I of course have taken a different path. I grew up Anglican and joined the Catholic Church nearly 8 years ago, but I still miss Anglicanism. There is a spirituality there that speaks to my heart in a way that other liturgies don't.

    As someone who has been active in the Anglican Use in the US, I have a different perspective on the creation of Anglican ordinariates. I have attended mass and the annual conference of the Anglican Use Society, which was well-attended by TAC clergymen and laymen, but not dominated by it. The majority of attendees, clerical and other, were AU Catholics, non-AU Catholics, and other non-TAC Continuing Anglo-Catholics, as well as by priests representing the Pastoral Provision Office under the Archbishop of Newark (who hosted the last annual conference in June). In my perspective the request by the Traditional Anglican Communion was not the cause, but the final straw.

    Long before the TAC even existed, there was the Pastoral Provision which created Anglican Use parishes nearly a generation ago. Many of those parishes have thrived and are now facing a dilemma. Their priests, mostly former Anglican clergymen, are getting up in years. Where are these thriving parishes supposed to get new Anglican Use priests? They are thriving parishes. It would be pastoral malfeasance not to provide them with new priests, which requires seminaries, which are provided by Anglicanorum Coetibus.

    Added to the TAC and the AU parishes, comes the vote by the Church of England to create women bishops which has caused many of the Anglo-Catholics there to search for a new home, some looked to Rome. There is also the general disintegration of the Anglican Communion worldwide with the American Episcopal Church on one side and the Anglican Churches of the Global South, especially on Africa, on the other side of significant theological questions.

    To me, Anglicanorum Coetibus was a generous, innovative pastoral response, in the traditional of the Pastoral Provision, to all these Anglicans knocking on the Pope's door. The TAC is probably the best organized, most distinct group and will be one of cores of the new Ordinariates, but I am not sure if ex-TAC members will make up even a majority of Ordinariate members.

    Ultimately, this question about how the Anglicanorum Coetibus came to be and what trends and groups were the biggest influence upon the Vatican –- the TAC, the existing AU parishes, Forward in Faith and other UK Anglo-Catholics, the continuing disintegration of the Anglican Communion, etc. -- must wait for the historians to sort through in the years to come.

    The question of who will make up the majority of the Anglican Ordinariate parishes is not one that we can answer now definitely, obviously, but we can look to the existing Anglican Use parishes for clues. The cores of those parishes when founded were almost always the majority of an ex-Anglican parish and their priest. Over the years, they have attracted others -- some cradle Catholics, some Angilcan converts, some non-Anglican converts whose denominations have roots in Anglicanism or in the culture of England and the US (e.g. Methodists), some like you who are not clearly in one category or another, etc. -- and they have also grown through natural increase, i.e. marriage and children.) I am not aware of any study that shows that a majority of worshipers of the current AU parishes lack Anglican roots. Certainly, some of the current AU priests challenge it based upon their own experiences with their parishes. It is a fair assumption to make, an hypothesis that I cannot refute, but it is a hypothesis that I think needs to be tested.


  2. Well written, Doctor Ben! Worth re-posting at TPC.

    "Roman Catholics who were Roman Catholics and still are Roman Catholics and who would want to be Roman Catholics again but with an Anglican flavour!"

    Made me think twice...LOL!


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