We had a very good discussion about the Anglicanorum Coetibus at our bishops’ meeting this week, and the bishops have warmly and generously welcomed the Holy Father’s pastoral initiative towards those Anglicans who are seeking full ecclesial communion with the Catholic Church.
We obviously had to address all the details this week that have arisen because of the project, so that we can implement it, seeking to help those people who are coming into the Catholic Church, because it’s going to affect their lives and their welfare in a great many important areas. But we’ve placed it all in the context of our overall ecumenical journey, which is exactly where the Holy Father has placed it, which seeks full communion in faith and fullness of unity for which Jesus Christ Himself prayed.
I’d just like to go through the document with you, go through the timetable, as it were, the details, and I think if you go over to page 2 of the statement, just to remind you that this Anglicanorum Coetibus document came out over a year ago, and it’s taken this year to bring about its implementation. And the Holy Father stressed at the time that he was responding to repeated… to petitions that came to him repeatedly and consist… and insistently, from groups of Anglicans who wish to be received into full communion, both individually and corporately. And now, since, over the course of this year, it’s become very clear that there are clergy and groups of people who wish to make use of this journey into the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate structure.
So, in collaboration with the CDF (the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), we’ve been preparing for the establishment of the Ordinariate in early 2011, early on in January. Of course, there are practical difficulties: housing, finance, and so on, but we’re working through those, and the bishops are working through them very generously indeed.
As you know, five Anglican bishops have indicated that they will be joining the Ordinariate, they will be coming into the Catholic Church at the beginning of January and joining the Ordinariate once it’s been set up. We think that somewhere through the month of January, the Ordinariate will be set up and established, and that an Ordinary – in other words, something like a bishop – will be appointed to have the overall care of the Ordinariate. Soon afterwards, there are the three bishops who are actively active in pastoral ministry in the Church of England, will then be ordained to the diaconate and the priesthood of the Catholic Church. And the two retired bishops who will be coming with them will be ordained later on, at the beginning of Lent.
Now, with the clergy that are coming over to the Ordinariate, it’s expected that we will know who they are by the beginning of Lent. And then those who’ve indicated that… their resignations from the Church of England, they will be trained, formed, undergo a rigorous formation, for the priesthood of the Catholic Church. That will involve the whole of Lent and the whole of Easter, so that will be a twelve-week course. During that time, the faithful, the people who will becoming with them in their groups, will also undergo preparation to be received into the Catholic Church. They’ve already begun a period of preparation from October onwards, and that will become a bit more rigorous during that period before Easter.
As you can see from the paper, we’re expecting to receive both clergy and laypeople some time during Holy Week, perhaps either Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or perhaps at the Mass of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, or together with others at the celebration of Easter at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. Up until then, both clergy and people will be looked after by the local Catholic clergy as arranged by the diocesan bishop and the Ordinary, as appointed by the Holy Father.
Then, around Pentecost, the clergy that have come into the Catholic Church will be ordained as priests in the Catholic Church, and they will enter into the Ordinariate, they’ll be incardinated into the Ordinariate. They’ll already have been ordained deacons some time after Easter Day. After their ordination, we expect the clergy to continue to undergo formation, and to continue their studies for some time, so that they can really get their feet under the table of the Catholic Church, as it were.
I think once again I just want to repeat the paragraph at the end of the paper: that is to say, in responding generously and offering a warm welcome to those seeking full ecclesial communion with the Catholic Church within the Ordinariate, the bishops know that the clergy and faithful who are on that journey of faith will bring their own spiritual treasures which will further enrich the spiritual life of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and the bishops will do all they can to ensure that there is effective and close collaboration with the Ordinariate both at diocesan and parish levels.