John Allen, the excellent and fair journo for the National Catholic Reporter writes here about the hype and the reality surrounding the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. He quips that there are probably more articles written about the Constitution than there are Anglicans willing to take advantage of it.
I see his point and agree. Those of us who understand the situation never imagined that the entire Anglican and Episcopal churches would be cramming across the Tiber like lemmings. Neither was that the intent of the Vatican in issuing the Constitution. It is clear from the opening paragraphs that this is a response from a significant, but small number of Anglicans who genuinely want to be in communion with the Holy See. What interests me is that Rome is willing to make provision for all sorts of small groups, and doesn’t mind dealing with a little group of Chaldeans here, an order of Anglican sisters there, a congregation of Ukrainians or whatever. This is a similar provision.
However, in the midst of Allen’s realistic article is the opinion of one bishop who doubts whether there will even be a need for an Anglican Ordinariate in the USA. This is worrying. While the numbers are small, they are still significant. This initiative must not be sidelined by people who do not understand the Anglican situation and are cynical about the Pope’s offer for whatever reasons (and there are a whole range of different reasons why Catholics will be opposed to this measure) Happily, the Ordinariate will not be set up by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, but by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
While we wait and see what action is taken by Rome, I think this is the time for interested parties to start organizing and talking. Episcopalians, continuing Anglicans and former Anglican Catholics should take an interest, get involved, meet with one another and see just how much interest there is. Communications should be established with the local bishop so that they (and Rome) will start to see just how much interest there is. Individual clergy should be in contact with friends, start networking, get things going at the local level. The success of the ordinariate will depend on people having some enthusiasm, having an entreprenurial spirit and a willingness to make sacrifices for this to work.
One thing everyone who is interested can do is to plan to attend the Anglican Use Conference in Newark NJ in June. Keep in touch with developing details on this through the website of the St Thomas More Society.