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ANGLICANS-CONSTITUTION Nov-9-2009 (960 words) xxxi

Papal document on former Anglicans maintains some Anglican traditions

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Former Anglicans entering the Catholic Church can preserve their liturgical traditions, married priests in some circumstances and even a shade of their consultative decision-making processes, according to Pope Benedict XVI's document on new structures for welcoming the former Anglicans.

The pope's apostolic constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus" ("Groups of Anglicans") was published Nov. 9 at the Vatican along with specific norms governing the establishment and governance of "personal ordinariates," structures similar to dioceses, for former Anglicans who become Catholic.

As previously announced by the Vatican, the text said there could be exemptions to the church's celibacy rule to allow married former Anglican priests to be ordained as Catholic priests. However, it emphasized that this would be done on a "case-by-case basis."

An accompanying Vatican statement said the possibility of having some married clergy under this special arrangement "does not signify any change in the church's discipline of clerical celibacy."

The ordinariates will be established by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in consultation with the national bishops' conference where the ordinariate is to be based, the constitution said.

The pope will appoint the head of each ordinariate, although he will choose from a list of three candidates nominated by the jurisdiction's governing council, the norms said. The council will be made up of at least six priests belonging to the ordinariate.

A commentary published by the Vatican with the constitution and norms said the role of the governing council in choosing an ordinary, giving consent for a candidate to be ordained to the priesthood and establishing parishes and seminaries is a sign of "respect for the synodal tradition of Anglicanism."

Within the Anglican Communion, synods are made up of clergy and laypeople and they directly elect bishops and set policy.

The ordinary, even if he is not a bishop, is automatically a member of the national bishops' conference and is required to make an "ad limina" visit to the Vatican every five years to report on the status of the ordinariate, the constitution said.

The pope's apostolic constitution and the norms for implementing it repeatedly state a preference for celibacy for priests in the Latin rite of the Catholic Church.

"The ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter" or priest, the constitution said. The ordinary may petition the pope for an exemption to allow married men to be ordained Catholic priests, it said.

The norms explicitly exclude the possibility of ordaining married Anglican priests who previously were ordained as Catholic priests as well as excluding Anglican priests who are in "irregular marriage situations," such as those who have been divorced and remarried.

Only celibate former Anglican bishops may be ordained Catholic bishops in keeping with the tradition of both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches, the new norms said.

Unmarried men who want to be ordained "must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy," the constitution said.

According to the norms, new seminarians must be part of the personal ordinariate or be former Anglicans who have established full communion with the Catholic Church. They may not be originally baptized Catholics who later became Anglicans or joined the personal ordinariate.

In fact, the norms said, "Those baptized previously as Catholics outside the ordinariate are not ordinarily eligible for membership" in the ordinariate itself "unless they are members of a family belonging to the ordinariate."

The norms called for the new personal ordinariates to provide an adequate salary, pension and insurance for their priests, but the rules also recognize that may be a challenge with priests who are married and have children. The norms allow for priests, with the permission of their ordinary, to "engage in a secular profession compatible with the exercise of priestly ministry."

In the apostolic constitution, dated Nov. 4, Pope Benedict reaffirmed his commitment to promoting Christian unity and said that as the one chosen "to preside over and safeguard the universal communion of all the churches," he had to find a way to accept the request of Anglican individuals and groups who wanted "to be received into full Catholic communion."

While the former Anglicans will be able to celebrate the Latin-rite Mass like any other Catholic, he said, members of the ordinariate also will be able "to celebrate the holy Eucharist and the other sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical celebrations according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See."

In order to join the personal ordinariate, he said, former Anglican laypeople and religious "must manifest this desire in writing," while former Anglican priests are admitted by the ordinary according to the rules in canon law for being incardinated into a diocese or other church jurisdiction.

The Vatican commentary, written by Jesuit Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, a canon lawyer and rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, said the constitution and norms respond to two needs: maintaining the spiritual and liturgical traditions of the former Anglicans while integrating them fully into the Latin rite of the Catholic Church.

Father Ghirlanda said, "These personal ordinariates cannot be considered as particular ritual churches" -- like the Ukrainian, Maronite or Coptic Catholic churches -- "since the Anglican liturgical, spiritual and pastoral tradition is a particular reality within the Latin Church" while the Eastern churches developed separately.

Establishing the ordinariates and allowing former Anglicans to maintain some of their traditions, he said, ensures that they "are not simply assimilated into the local dioceses in a way which would lead to the loss of the richness of their Anglican tradition, which would be an impoverishment of the entire church."


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