Joan Lewis (EWTN): Interview with Cardinal Donald Wuerl on the Ordinariate

24 05 2011

Joan Lewis of EWTN interviewed the Archbishop of Washington and Episcopal Delegate to the USCCB for the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, about the development and establishment of a Personal Ordinariate in the United States. The audio of the interview can be found here. A transcript of the interview is found below:

JL: Today I continue my conversation with Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, who was in Rome in May for the ceremony in which he took possession of his titular church of St Peter’s in Chains. We talked about the possibility of an Ordinariate in the United States, the new seminary in D.C., and the joys and challenges of being a Cardinal and Archbishop of a major diocese.

I’d love right now to turn to another subject that actually is dear to both of us – the Ordinariate. That’s the new structure in the Church for welcoming numbers of Anglicans – faithful bishops, priests – into the Catholic Church. We’re not talking a single layperson who wanted to become Catholic – they would go through the normal procedure. But so many people have been asking for years – certainly in the UK – to be welcomed into the Church because they felt that the Anglican Communion was moving pretty far away from its’ Christian and, really, Catholic origins: we won’t go through the history of Henry VIII or everything, but…

I was in the UK in January and met Monsignor Newton who’s heading up the Ordinariate there and it’s a very exciting time for these people but also very challenging. I mean some of these priests – I have a friend who will be ordained a Catholic priest in two weeks – and it’s like: ‘OK, who’s going to pay my salary? Where am I going to live?’ They’ve lost their parish that they had as Anglicans.

So, now, you’ve been put in charge of a committee in the US to look at this. Is it just the US? Is it Canada? What’s the structure you’re working with?

+DW: When the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responded to the Holy Father’s request that somehow the Church be able to respond to those Anglicans who were asking to come into the Church corporately – as a body – and, if you remember, the initial ecumenical conversations between Archbishop Ramsey and Paul VI were about corporate reunion – how does the Anglican Communion, as a communion, how does it reunite with the Catholic Church? Well the idea of Pope Benedict was – let us provide some mechanism for those who would like to do this because on the wider level the conversations are going on but the ecumenical conversation has slowed down. That led to the idea of this Ordinariate.

I was asked to be the delegate for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for the United States – there will be and are other delegates for different parts of the English-speaking world where the Anglican Communion is represented. In the United States we have found, in response to the announcement that there is a possibility of an Ordinariate, we received a great number of enquiries from Anglican congregations and their clergy asking is there some way they can come into the Catholic Church through this vehicle.

So, where we are right now. We have gathered up as much information as we can from all of these groups that have asked about the possibility of being part of an Ordinariate, and we’ve put it together so that we have some data to pass onto the Congregation and we’ve been asked now to prepare dossiers on each of those members of the Anglican clergy who would like to be ordained and be part of this Ordinariate, and profiles of the communities. Once that’s all in the hands of the Congregation, they’ve indicated they intend to announce – down the road – the formation of an Ordinariate. And one of those – just as happened in England – one of those will be chosen to be the Ordinary and to head it. Basically, the structure will be – this Ordinariate will be a diocese for the whole country.

JL: Very much like the Military Ordinariate. [+DW: Very much] It’s not a territorial diocese like you head, obviously.

+DW: We have a couple of very good examples. You know, we have the Eastern Churches – well represented in the United States – we have the Maronite; the Melkite; the Ruthenian; the Ukrainian. They all have a jurisdiction that’s wider than a diocese, but with a bishop. This will be like the military – the Archdiocese of the Military Services – it will have a bishop, it’ll have an Ordinary who is responsible for the whole country. The idea, then, will be to see that those clergy who are going to be ordained receive adequate formation because there are areas of historic divergence in our theologies and they need to be brought up-to-date on what the Catholic Church understands by specific areas. And then we have to make sure that the faithful of these parishes, these congregations, have a review (?) of the Church. Now we already have a mechanism for that, we have the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, and that will serve as the Catechism for Anglicans coming into the Church. The idea would be that, sooner rather than later, the Holy See would announce this just like it did in England, and there’ll be an Ordinariate.

JL: And it’s the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham – a very beautiful shrine in the UK. My friend who is about to be ordained a Catholic priest gave me an immensely beautiful statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and apparently it’s one of, like, only a hundred – I cherish it a great deal. So I wish you much success, you and the people thinking about coming into the Catholic Church will certainly be in my prayers.