A personal ordinariate for Anglicans wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church will most likely be established in the United States this fall, says Cardinal Donal Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C.
Cardinal Wuerl, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s delegate for the implementation of “Anglicanorum Coetibus” in the United States, presented an update on the implementation of an ordinariate at the Spring Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, held last week in Seattle.
Benedict XVI’s 2009 apostolic constitution offered a way for groups of Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church through the establishment of personal ordinariates, a new type of canonical structure. The cardinal revealed that some 100 priests and 2,000 laity have requested to enter the Church through the new structure, and that it was concluded “that it appears feasible to establish an ordinariate in the United States at this time.”
Additionally, he revealed later, the “Holy See has indicated its wish to establish an ordinariate in the United States this fall.”
Currently, the cardinal, as the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Implementation of “Anglicanorum Coetibus” in the United States, is involved in establishing not only who is interested in joining the ordinariate, but also providing the new members with the necessary formation to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.
The primary focus, he said, is on a “program of priestly formation […] that would allow for a concentration of study in the areas of historic theological divergence in anticipation of ordination to the priesthood.”
Cardinal Wuerl stated that with the approval of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, a program will be offered by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s Major Seminary. The program has been largely developed and will be directed by a Saint Mary’s faculty member and former Anglican bishop, Father Jeffrey Steenson.
After providing the update, Cardinal Wuerl invited “additional observations” from his colleagues, and as well as “support for this effort.”
The cardinal noted several areas that bishops could assist a newly formed ordinariate, such as helping out with the process of reviewing possible candidates to the priesthood, and offering “worship space to a small community that would be a part of the new ordinariate.”
“Most of them will not have property such as a church and meeting facilities,” the cardinal explained. “Our hospitality in providing them worship space would be a sign of generosity on our part and, I am sure, greatly welcomed by them.” Cardinal Wuerl also suggested that bishops could assign priests who could act as a liaison with the members of the ordinariate, and to “serve as a mentor to assist with any issues that arise in the formation process.”
Regarding the laity, the cardinal said bishops could aid their integration into the Catholic Church by supporting the ordinariate’s efforts to provide the “catechetical process for those lay faithful coming into the ordinariate and making their profession of faith as a Catholic.”
The first ordinariate was established in January for England and Wales, and was named the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. It has about 1,000 parishioners and 42 congregations, and is led by five priests who are former Anglican bishops.
Other ordinariates are under consideration in Australia and Canada.