A great deal of natural curiosity surrounding the Anglican ordinariate has been answered with the publication of A little Catechism on the Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans authored by Melbourne Bishop Peter Elliott, a former Anglican.
Not only does the small tome answer the question of what the ordinariate is and can do, but also questions about who is able to join, whether ordinariate priests must be celibates and how ordinariate worship might be different to that in Western and Eastern Catholic churches.
Australia’s Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross came into being on June 15, 2012 and is one of three ordinariates established for former Anglicans throughout the world, along with those in England and the United States.
Their establishment was made possible in 2009 when Pope Benedict XVI responded positively to requests from traditional Anglicans that they be allowed to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining their Anglican traditions or patrimony.
Anglicans currently in communion with Cantebury and other members of Traditional Anglican groups, are eligible to enter the Ordinariate, as are former Anglicans who had already joined the Catholic Church, and Catholics who have a very close family member who is a member of the ordinariate.
Prospective Catholics of the ordinariate apply in writing and are instructed in a program devised by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“Cradle Catholics” who do not have a very close family member in the ordinariate, cannot become registered members but are free to take part in the worship, sacraments and pastoral life of ordinariate parishes, just as they might in Eastern Rite Catholic churches.
Married former Anglican priests can be ordained to the ordinariate with a dispensation from celibacy granted by the Pope.
The catechism also features many interesting tidbits that might sound very novel to most Catholics.
Ordinariate clergy, for example, are permitted to undertake appropriate work outside their ministry, but only with their ordinary’s permission.
The catechism also tries to answer lingering questions Anglicans might have about joining an ordinariate and uniting themselves to the Catholic Church.
Bishop Elliott addresses the discomfort some might feel at joining the Catholic Church; feeling uneasy with Marian dogmas; divorce and remarriage; papal infallibility and the Church’s teaching on human sexuality and family planning.
A little Catechism provides Anglicans and Catholics with a picture of what the ordinariates proud and dignified patrimony will look like.
A liturgy “proper to the Anglican tradition” is being prepared jointly by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Divine Worship, drawing from Anglican sources including the Book of Common Prayer, the English Missal and the Book of Divine Worship.
In July, the Holy See announced the first liturgical texts approved for use by the ordinariates – the Order for Funerals and the Order for the Celebration of Holy Matrimony.
The order for celebrating marriage is perhaps emblematic of the ordinariates themselves, in exhibiting distinctly Anglican traditions, now added to the deposit of Catholic worship, and Catholic understandings previously absent from the Anglican forms of the rite.
The three distinct elements of the Anglican celebration remain; the preface, which sets out the objects of marriage; the exchange of vows and giving of rings; and the blessing of the couple.
In the ordinariate’s order of celebration however, it is no longer the priest who “marries” the couple.
Instead the couple are understood to have married one another, as per Catholic teaching.
A little Catechism is available from The Record Bookshop for $10.00 plus postage and handling.