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Explanatory Note on the Complementary Norms of the Apostolic Constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus” of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 09.04.2019

In an article published in today’s “L’Osservatore Romano” regarding the Complementary Norms of the Apostolic Constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus”, the author Nicola Gori explains that in 2009 Benedict XVI signed the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus on the institution of personal Ordinariates for Anglicans who enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, in response to requests from some Anglican groups who wished to be received, also corporately, in full Catholic communion. Currently, there exist three Ordinariates: Our Lady of Walsingham in England, the Chair of Saint Peter in the United States of America, and Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia.

The 2009 constitution provides general norms, integrated with complementary norms. During the ten years that have passed since its publication, some suggestions and theological indications have been received, both ecumenical and in relation to canon law, to make the application of the provisions more consistent with the spirit of the Apostolic Constitution. This led to a new version of these norms, decided by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope Francis on 8 March this year.

“In more detail”, Gori explains, “in Article 4, where reference is made to the Ordinariate which has the faculty of incardinating into the Ordinariate the Anglican ministers who have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church, in the revised complementary provisions particular reference is made to those who are already incardinated in a diocese by virtue of the Pastoral Provision and the candidates belonging to the Ordinariate promoted by him to the Sacred Orders”. In addition, “clerics who are about to be incardinated in the Ordinariate must be uncardinated from their original dioceses”.

As Gori reiterates, the Pastoral Provision, authorized by Saint John Paul II in 1980, was created in 1980 in the United States of America to receive married former Anglican priests in the Catholic ordained ministry.

“With regard to the faithful of the Ordinariate, dealt with by Article 5, the new Complementary Norms specify the case of a person who has been validly baptized in another ecclesial community outside the Catholic Church”, the author continues. “When such a person expresses the wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, thanks to the efforts and the evangelizing mission of the Ordinariate, he may be admitted and belong to the Ordinariate from the moment in which he enters into full communion and receives the sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist. Furthermore, it should be underlined that this is applied also to those who have not been validly baptized, but who again thanks to the evangelizing action of the Ordinariate have discovered the faith so as to receive all the sacraments of initiation”.

In Article 10, regarding the clergy, a further novelty is introduced. While in previous paragraph 2, it was specified that the “candidates may receive other aspects of priestly formation at a seminary program or house of formation established, with the consent of the Governing Council, expressly for the purpose of transmitting Anglican patrimony”. In the new Complementary Norms, the same paragraph 2 states that “Ordinariate Seminarians will receive their theological formation with other seminarians at a seminary or theological faculty in agreement with the Diocesan Bishop or Bishops concerned”. By adding that such candidates “may receive other aspects of priestly formation”, the norm is simplified and adapted to current needs. Again in Article 10, regarding the clergy, in paragraph 5 it is added that the Ordinariate, for the purpose of the continuing formation of its clergy, will promote participation both “in local programs for formation provided by the Episcopal Conference and the Diocesan Bishop” and “in their own programs of ongoing formation”.

In the new Complementary Norms, an entire article has been added, number 15, dedicated to the celebration of Divine Worship. It is acknowledged that the Missal proper to the personal Ordinariates, entitled “Divine Worship”, namely the form approved by the Holy See for use by the Ordinariate, expresses and preserves for Catholic worship “the worthy Anglican liturgical patrimony, understood as that which has nourished the Catholic faith throughout the history of the Anglican tradition and prompted aspirations towards ecclesial unity”.

This is the reason for the emphasis that public liturgical worship following Divine Worship is limited to the personal Ordinariates, as established by the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, explains Gori. “Any priest incardinated in the Ordinariate is authorized to celebrate using Divine Worship. This applies outside the parishes of the Ordinariate when the priest celebrates Mass without the participation of the faithful, and also publicly with the permission of the rector or parish priest of the church or of the parish concerned. Furthermore, when pastoral needs demand it, or in the absence of a priest incardinated in an Ordinariate, if requested, any priest incardinated in the diocese or in an institute of consecrated life or of a society of apostolic life can celebrate in accordance with Divine Worship for the members of the Ordinariate. Finally, it is granted to any priest incardinated in the diocese or in an institute of consecrated life or in a society of apostolic life to concelebrate following Divine Worship.