Vatican City, Jul 12, 2013 / 02:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Demonstrating the role of Anglican Ordinariates in the new evangelization, baptized Catholics can now join the groups set up for Anglican converts, according to a change in rules made by Pope Francis.
Those who were baptized Catholic but have not received Confirmation and First Communion are now allowed to join the ordinariates. Previously, baptized Catholics were not eligible to join the groups unless they had family who were ex-Anglicans.
“This confirms the place of the Personal Ordinariates within the mission of the wider Catholic Church, not simply as a jurisdiction for those from the Anglican tradition, but as a contributor to the urgent work of the New Evangelisation,” the United Kingdom's ordinariate announced July 9.
Taking its cue from the late John Paul II, the new evangelization is the common term for bringing the Gospel to formerly Christian nations, and can be seen in the new outreach to people who were baptized as Catholics but who never completed the process of Christian initiation.
Benedict XVI allowed for the groups to be set up with his 2009 apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus,” which provided for ordinariates, or Anglican communities wishing to enter into the Catholic Church.
His “complementary norms” governing the groups said that “those baptized previously as Catholics outside the Ordinariate are not ordinarily eligible for membership, unless they are members of a family belonging to the Ordinariate.”
On May 31, Pope Francis modified the complementary norms, adding a section which says that “a person who has been baptized in the Catholic Church but who has not completed the Sacraments of Initiation, and subsequently returns to the faith and practice of the Church as a result of the evangelizing mission of the Ordinariate, may be admitted to membership in the Ordinariate and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation or the Sacrament of the Eucharist or both.”
It was emphasized that Catholics must meet the objective criterion – lacking at least one of the sacraments of initiation – to join the groups for former Anglicans, and they may not join “for purely subjective motives or personal preference,” according to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In addition to the U.K.'s Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, there are also ordinariates in North America and Australia.
“I certainly welcome this development, which further establishes our place in the work of the new evangelization,” said Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, ordinary of the Chair of Saint Peter, in North America.
“Particularly in North America, with large percentages of 'unchurched' peoples, it is inevitable that we will encounter those who have no formal ecclesial relationships but who are seekers of truth,” he added in his statement.
“The Great Commission thus becomes more and more the heart of our work.”