What is the Significance of the Pope’s Anglican Ordinariates?

Oct 24th, 2009 | By | Category: Blog Posts

[Look for a Called to Communion podcast on the Anglican Ordinariates this week. Tim Troutman, Andrew Preslar and I recorded on Friday evening.]

The Holy Father has announced the formation of a “personal ordinariate” for Anglicans coming into the Catholic Church. A lot of people are confused by what is meant by “personal ordinariate.” The most common question that I hear is, “Is this similar to Opus Dei’s personal prelature?”

Well…sort of, but not really.

A personal prelature is headed by a prelate (Bishop Javier Echevarria in the case of Opus Dei) and it does not have geographic limits (unlike a local diocese which does have geographic limits), but includes persons who are associated–this is why it’s called “personal.” Moreover, it envelops both clergy and laity. It’s not a religious “order” because it has a lay element.

A personal ordinariate is similar but different. It is headed by an ordinary (who can be either a bishop or priest). It too is “personal” meaning that it does not have geographic boundaries like a diocese does. It can also include both clergy and laity like a personal prelature. A personal ordinariate differs from a personal prelature in that an ordinariate is reckoned as a “particular church.” The military “archdiocese” of the United States is an “ordinariate” and not really an “archdiocese.”

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  1. Our readers might enjoy the article, Catholic Rites and Churches (from EWTN). This is a helpful document for understanding, well, Catholic Rites and Churches, the difference between these, and the nature and number of each Rite and each particular church in the Catholic Church.

    It appears that the Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans will be a particular church, but not having a distinct Rite within the Catholic Church (unlike, say, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which is a particular church having its own distinct Rite in constant use from antiquity–the Byzantine Rite). I think that whatever form of liturgy (drawing from the Book of Common Prayer tradition) is to be celebrated in the Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans will technically be a modified version of the Roman Rite.

  2. For the purpose of clarity:

    A Personal Prelature consists of a prelate who is the proper Ordinary and secular clergy whose purpose is to carry out a special pastoral or missionary enterprise. Personal Prelatures are exclusively secular by design of Canon Law (cf can 294) not because the laity may belong.

    Laypeople who are incorporated into a Personal Prelature for the purpose of achieving the special pastoral or missionary enterprise do so by contract or agreement in which mutual rights and duties are determined according to the statutes of the prelature. The duration of the contractual incorporation of such laypersons into the organic structure of the Personal Prelature may be for a specific duration (usually 1 year) or perpetual.

    This is in contrast to what we seem to know about Personal Ordinariates. Laity are entrusted to the Ordinary in these structures by the supreme authority of the Catholic Church. In the case of the Anglican Personal Ordinariates it seems that all those laity with a personal attachment to the Anglican tradition will be entrusted to an Ordinary whose pastoral mission will be to minister to these laity and to safeguard the Anglican tradition.

    Laypersons incorporated into a Personal Prelature continue to depend upon their respective diocesan bishop like all other faithful but are governed by the jurisdiction of the prelature in matters determined by the statutes of the prelature. The power of the diocesan bishop is, therefore, mixed with that of the Personal Prelature with each regarding different matters on the same person.

    Personal Prelatures are under the jurisdiction of the Congregation of Bishops. Personal Prelatures must hear the advice of the Conference of Bishops in whose locality is concerned but such advice is not binding. Prior consent of the diocesan bishop is required for a prelature to exercise its activity within the scope of the diocesan bishop’s jurisdiction.

    In contrast, Personal Ordinariates are comparable to dioceses and are special ecclesiastical districts whose special pastoral mission the care of souls entrusted to it.

    Personal Ordinariates may be comprised of secular and religious. The Ordinary should concern himself to see that he preseveres in their fidelity to their vocation and charism of their own institutes, and maintain close relations with their superiors.

    Priests of Personal Ordinariates in the sphere assigned to them and in regard to the persons committed to their care enjoy the rights and are bound to the duties of parish priests.

    The Anglican tradition is an organic part of the Roman Rite. Those elements, however ancient of the great Anglican tradition in harmony with the teaching of the Catholic Church will be preserved within the permanent structures of the Personal Ordinariates.

  3. It appears that the Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans will be a particular church, but not having a distinct Rite…

    Isn’t one of the reasons for this initiative is to “preserve elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony”, as outlined in the Vatican announcement here:

    That is, it is hard to believe that there would not actually be such a distinct rite within the new particular church given the fact that its “spiritual and liturgical patrimony” are to be preserved.

    The latter cannot exist in any modified “Roman” rite; indeed, it would have to exist as its own distinct rite in order to manage the chief aim of the latter.

  4. roma,

    For reasons to which Taylor alludes in our most recent podcast, the Anglican Ordinariate will not be a distinct Rite of the Catholic Church. It will, however, in all likelihood use a distinctive form of the Roman Rite, said distinctions being based upon liturgical formulas in the Book of Common Prayer.

  5. Will priests of the new Ordinariate pray the Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer (which would certainly seem to be an important element of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony) or will they use the Roman Breviary?

  6. Rob,

    That is a good question.

    I imagine that they will use the Anglican Daily Office which consists of Vespers and Matins. The former is actually Vespers and Compline slapped together (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis) and the latter is truly Matins and Lauds slapped together (with Te Deum and Venite).

    However, I’m sure that the Roman Liturgy of the Hours would also count.

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