Bishop Kevin Vann: Towards the Anglican Ordinariate (US)

4 10 2011

Bishop Kevin Vann received a group of Anglican faithful into the full communion of the Catholic Church on 25 September 2011. Here are his reflections:

On Sunday September 25, 2011 at 2 o’clock in the afternoon at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Fort Worth, I had the privilege of fully innitiating a first wave of former Episcopalians into the Catholic Church. This community, now called St. Peter the Rock, currently meets at the Diocese of Fort Worth Catholic Center and is headed by former Episcopalian priests, Timothy Perkins and Charles Hough. Along with the other lay faithful, Timothy and Charles made their Profession of Faith so that they can join the Anglican Ordinariate when it is erected in the United States. The Anglican Ordinariate, which has already been establish in both England and Australia, will come to the United States at some point in the future. It will be called Anglican, because it is intended for those Christians who trace their identity back to the Church of England (ecclesia anglicana) and Ordinariate for the canonical super structure that will be led by an Ordinary (ordinarius), who will pastor the flock and excercise legal juristiction over this part of the Body of Christ. In the Roman Empire the word ordinarius was attached in a generic way to various political, military, medical and scholarly (among others) positions of leadership.

This historic unfolding follows from the Pastoral Provision, in which a dispensation was given by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1980 to former Episcopalian priests who sought full communion into the Catholic Church and desired to pursue the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, since that time, has maintained an ongoing relationship with members of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth to faciliate and enact the pastoral aspects of the Provision. In fact, in a rare move, the Holy See has granted rescripts for two of those priest to hold the canonical title of Pastor, a privilege not normally extended to those priests accepted under the Provision. They currently serve key parishes, one in Fort Worth and another in Keller.

Once the Holy Father declared in 2009 a widening of the Pastoral Provision to include not only the incorporation of former Episcopalian priests but of entire groups of Anglicans who desired to enter into full Communion with the Catholic Church, a new provision was made. It was called Anglicanorum coetibus. In this Apostolic Constitution, Pope Benedict XVI outlined a roadmap for what is commonly referred to as the Anglican Ordinariate.

Due to unprecidented nature of this reciprocal movement by both Anglicans and Catholics toward each other, practical questions about property, catechesis, and the relationship between the Anglican Ordinariate and Catholic Dioceses in the United States have arisen and are being answered. First, it is important to recognize that a more precise way to describe what is emerging is a Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans entering into full Communion with the Catholic Church. This is because although there is no opposition or necessary contradiction in the terms Anglican Ordinariate and Catholic Diocese, the temptation to turn the juxtaposition into opposition exists. What we are witnessing is the authentic adaptation of the Catholic Church to the times.

On a local level, there are many who have been instrumental in the Sunday celebration that took place here in Fort Worth. Along with Timothy Perkins and Charles Hough, Lucas Pollice and Burt and Rosary Guidry have worked to help prepare catechesis for those who were just received into the Church. They worked to design and carry out the behind the scenes connections that personalize such a transition. This process has been carried out in cooperation with Cardinal Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington, liaison between the Holy See and the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, and Fr. Scott Hurd, a priest of the archdiocese who assists the cardinal with the day to day organization and preparation for implementation of the Ordinariate.