Anglican Ordinariate Proceeds Apace

Heraldry of Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Pope Benedict XVI, respectively

On the heels of Pope Benedict’s well-received visit to the United Kingdom came the announcement last week of the CDF’s appointment of Archbishop Donald Wuerl, of Washington, as its delegate, “to guide the incorporation of Anglican groups into the Catholic Church in the United States.”

Yeah. It’s a big deal. And today, NETNY, Brooklyn Diocese-run channel that broadcasts, among other things, the nation’s only daily Catholic news program, scored an interview with Wuerl that helps clarify what the Ordinariate means for both Anglicans and Catholics, and how many Anglican congregations and parishes will be proceeding toward full Communion with Rome, and what the process will look like.

This is not about individual “conversions” but about how whole parishes may be incorporated into Communion with Rome, while maintaining their heritage, their liturgy and music (and anyone watching the gorgeous Evening Prayer at which Pope Benedict participated while in England will understand their desire to maintain it). Wuerl does a good job of laying out the basics.

The tireless Rocco Palmo caught the interview for the rest of us:

“Currents”: Archbishop Donald Wuerl on Anglicanorum Coetibus from Rocco Palmo on Vimeo.

Deacon Greg, who just happens to be the news director over at Currents, is feeling a little punny about it all.

It occurs to me that Benedict XVI, for all that he is derided as a “conservative” by some, and for having given the TradCaths “their own liturgy” (that would be the Latin mass), is actually being quite liberal and broad-minded in all of this, giving Catholics greater options in worship than they have ever had, before; he’s downright multi-cultural in his celebration of diversity!

Teasing aside, I’m going to make one of my famous predictions, so hold on to your hats (hey, come on, I predicted that Hillary would cry on camera before the 2008 New Hampshire primaries!) I predict that eventually the beautiful Anglican Rite will top the Novus Ordo in popularity and attendance. I think the Latinists will keep to the Latin mass, but that we’ll see a slow migration by many Catholics, away from the Novus Ordo and the OCP hymnal and toward the exalted language and more classical presentment of the Anglicans. For those Catholics dissatisfied with the NO, but not inclined to Latin, the Anglican Rite will become the irresistible alternative that brings back “some” of babies thrown out with the bathwater “in the Spirit of Vatican II.”

Or (this is an extended prediction), we’ll see some parishes adapt a little, maintaining the NO, but perhaps reinstalling the altar rails, or ditching the handclaps and tambourines, for a bit more reverence.

Either way, it’s going to be quite a shake up.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is also writing on the Ordinariate.

The UK Benedictine Nuns of Holy Trinity Monastery wonder about it all:

We must remember that our God is a God not of confusion but of peace. Only those who know first-hand the agony of uncertainty and division will really understand how painful the present time is. May God enlighten and strengthen all who seek his will in sincerity of heart and grant them his peace.

Also, while attending the Church Up Close seminars in Rome, I had the pleasure of listening to longtime Vatican-based journalist John Thavis discuss the ins-and-outs (and ups-and-downs) of covering the Vatican and the Papacy. He anticipated Benedict’s success in the United Kingdom, because he knew that the pontiff’s authenticity would resoundingly defeat the overdone media-drawn caricatures, as it did. He sums up the visit in this very good CNS video.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Victor

    Dear Anchoress,

    Last night I had a dream about you and I still don’t know what “IT” could possibly mean?

    I certainly was not going to mention “IT” in your last post but although I have not clicked on all links that you provide us in this post here, I did listen to the video portions and so here go’s cause I believe that “IT” is ok to do so but I’ve been wrong before.

    Anyway, we were in a beautiful land and I found you in my arms but “IT” was at the time just a kind of a hug situation and I remember thinking in the dream that I’m a married man but there was no lust in our mind what so ever and then I woke up.

    All I can make of “IT” is that for some reason, our souls and/or spirit wanted to console each other but I still don’t know why. Go Figure!

    I hope that I’m not too far off topic by sharing this with you and your readers. :)


  • Kurt

    I’m quite interested in this development. I’m something of a lapsed Episcopalian. I have stopped attending the Episcopal churches near me because they have all been taken over by the political left who want to use the church to push their agenda. I have much respect for Pope Benedict, and I would consider attending one of the churches described by the article, but I think in some respects, I couldn’t be completely at home in the Catholic church, either. I’m too much of a protestant at heart to feel comfortable with the church hierarchy of the Catholic church.

  • Bender

    Three years ago, all the trads predicted that people would start packing all of the Extraordinary Form Masses because it was now more widely available and they would see how much “better” it was than the Ordinary Form. (And it is properly referred to as the Ordinary Form, not the Novus Ordo and certainly not the epithet “NO Mass.” It is over 40 years old, there is nothing novus (new) about it.)

    What actually happened? A big yawn from 95 percent of Catholics.

    What will happen with the Anglican Rite? The same thing. Why? Because people actually do love the Ordinary Form, believe it or not. Of course, that will not stop people from bitching and whining about it, or bringing up ridiculous strawmen (what, no mention of the infamous clown Mass?), even people who should know better.

    [I guess your emphasis at the end is for my benefit? Save yer breath for yer porridge, Bender. I have no great beef with the NO, myself. Although I do hate and despise that ocp songbook! You sound cranky a lot, lately. You ok? -admin]

  • Liz

    I’m an Anglican, and I speak from experience when I say that we have the greatest respect for the Roman Catholics, but no desire to join with you. Those who want to – at least from a European perspective – just convert. The Anglo-Catholics, of whom you are writing, are a minority.

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  • George Walker

    I’ve been a traditional, Anglo-Catholic Episcopal priest for the last 25 years, and I’d strongly suggest that VERY FEW congregations will go over to the ordinariate. In addition to property issues, most parishes are not cohesive enough to make such an important decision. It’s more likely that many will try to hold on to their Anglican heritage through splinter groups such as ACNA. It was a bold and generous move by Benedict XVI, but will, I’m afraid, have little impact. It’s more likely that some parishes or newly formed congregations will “switch teams” in the UK. Just my $.02. George

  • Sally Thomas

    I’m a former Anglican who has come to love both the OF (done well, as it is in my parish) and the EF (also done in my parish, though not as a Sunday Mass, which preserves us, thank God, from some kind of Trad/Mod split in the congregation).

    Leaving Anglicanism was a wrench. My husband was a priest, and the beauty of that liturgy formed our older children — to be Catholic, as it turned out. I haven’t regretted our conversion for one minute, though, and once I got acclimated (which I basically had long before we were received into the Church) I haven’t missed Anglican liturgy all that much. In fact, I’m sort of grateful to have come in the plain old way so that I could come to appreciate the Roman Canon and all of the Mass as Catholics — since I am one now — experience it.

    At the same time, I’m happy that the Anglican liturgical and musical heritage can take its place on the Catholic landscape. Whether those parishes will be “swamped” or not really doesn’t matter, any more than it matters whether EF Masses are “swamped.” It means that something good will be *available* and part of the conversation.

    (and there is such a thing as bad Anglican liturgy, by the way. My oldest daughter was confirmed in the Church of England in Ely Cathedral: gorgeous setting, not-gorgeous anything else. “It’s a valid sacrament,” we said to ourselves — delusionally, I guess . . . )

    Oh, and we do have an altar rail in our parish. A parishioner made it, and it went in last fall. A few people still stand to receive, but most people kneel. Communion flows smoothly. Kneeling at a rail was something I really did miss from Anglicanism, and it’s lovely to be able to do it, especially with children in tow. And it makes our decidedly homely church look more like an actual church.

  • craig

    Bender, I suspect most people (95%) will never even have a chance to see an Anglican use mass, much less decide whether they like it. Even after the ordinariates are created (how long, Lord?) I do not expect them to get much support from the rest of Catholicism. I expect them to be looked at (and depicted in Catholic media outlets) as those oddballs who won’t get with the program and do things the “normal” way. I’m one of the lucky ones, in that I could attend if I were willing to drive 50 miles each way.

  • c matt

    I predicted that Hillary would cry on camera before the 2008 New Hampshire primaries!

    Yeah, but one of her assistants had to pinch her really really hard.

    because [the Extraordinary Form] was now more widely available

    If by more widely available you mean 1 EF for every 200 N.O.s.

    If every parish had one E.F. on Sunday along with the five or six N.O.s, and it was still not drawing a crowd, then I might agree with you.

    [It's a good point. Where I live, there is one EF mass offered, once a month, in one little out-of-the way parish that takes over an hour to get to, between location and horrific traffic. I would venture to say most priests around here, and they're good priests, wouldn't know how to do an EF if their lives depended on it. -admin]

  • c matt

    It is over 40 years old, there is nothing novus (new) about it.

    A mere newborn, minutes old, in Church time.

  • Evelyn

    From my experience from teaching baptism and confirmation classes and RCIA I suspect that Bender may be right,but for all the wrong reasons. Sadly, most of the folks are simply interested in “getting their sacraments” and getting back to the diversion of the day. The shortest, simplest way to accomplish this is just fine with them.

    Drive through or online ordinary form (EP2) sacramental dispensing stations would be a big hit.

  • Margo

    I find this information interesting and very informative. This isn’t a topic I’d be comfortable giving my opinion about at this point until I study it further. But the readers’ comments are interesting and I like hearing what others have to say; that’s how I educate myself. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Teresa

    My husband was an Anglican priest, in the traditional Anglican sense, for many years. After becoming disgusted with the direction of the Episcopal Church he finally left the priesthood and stopped attending services. When I returned to the Catholic church, he later joined me there. He converted several years before his death this summer. Before that, for a time we attended the small Episcopal church here in this small southern town. The parish was shrinking — if there were 15 people at the services on Sunday, that was considered a crowd. Do I think they will cross the Tiber? Not likely. However, many idividuals from that church did cross. That is probably the most likely way it will happen here in the U.S. Maybe not full parishes but individuals in larger numbers.

  • Andrew

    I find it interesting that people like LIz can feel that she speaks for all Anglicans. Liz, many Anglicans have been praying for this year decades. In fact, this has always been a part of Anglo-Catholic aspirations. As a former Anglican who, while missing the liturgy and spirit of a traditional Anglican parish, I could no longer stomach the outright heresy and apostasy coming from the Anglican leadership. I remember the day I read some insane comments from a local Anglican bishop and thought to myself “Even though I love my parish, I can no longer be in communion with this.” In my RCIA class, half of the 20 of us were former Anglicans who were pushed out. This new initiative is a God send and the answer to many traditional Anglicans prayers.

  • Elaine

    I am really happy that the Pope has extended this invitation. As a Catholic who spent 20 years in the Episcopal church and then returned to the Church I appreciate that the Pope has made this lovely invitation. The Anglican Rite is wonderful and I think it will be a nice addition to the Church. I wish folks were not afraid of the Pope and the hierarchy of the church. It never gets in the way of the mass and the Eucharist for me. I always have the security of knowing that the major theology will not be changed and there is so much richness in the Saints and the Church history -so much to ponder and enjoy. The Church does not change things to accommodate all that we may want – the church does say “NO” ! The gospels are always preached so the scriptures are vital to the Church. Whatever happens with Anglicans I can only wish you well as I love all my Episcopal friends!

  • Annie

    Bender and George Walker…
    I doubt that Benedict ever anticipated huge numbers of Anglicans accepting his offer. But I heartily agree with Elizabeth that this move will influence the RCC in very positive ways.

    I went to an Anglican funeral recently and was greatly moved by the beauty of the liturgy. If an ECUSA parish near me were to join the church, I would seriously consider becoming a member.

  • Liz

    Andrew, I’m not speaking for all Anglicans, just the ones I know and those who are not in the Anglo Catholic – or outright Catholic – tradition. The Anglican Church, particularly in the British Isles, represents almost every shade of Protestant Christianity. I know some who have converted to Catholicism and more who have gone the other way.

    But, and this may come from living in a dominantly Catholic country where people can and do just convert, we do not wish to join the two churches. I’m sure the Pope’s offer is made in the spirit of the utmost generosity, but all it comes across as is trying to take our churches from us, as opposed to the perfectly legitimate actions of gaining converts to their denomination.

    If you want to convert, do so. But ask yourself how you would feel if the Archbishops of York and Canterbury asked Catholic parishes to join the Anglican church – and hand over their churches and congregations as well. I think the attitude is that, in the unlikely event of an entire congregation switching denominations, they can find another church, rather than taking one from a church they no longer recognise. If my family and I converted to, say, Methodism, we’d switch our place of worship.

    Again, I’m not trying to impugn anyone’s motives. But, as someone who is happy to work within the Anglican community, I do find it a bit annoying that *some* Catholics see us as a body that will, of course, be incorporated, rather than as a proper denomination of our own. We are just as much a separate body as any Baptist, Pentacostal or Presbyterian church.

  • Nerina

    I would be happy to participate in a reverent and sacred celebration of the Mass in the Ordinary Form. Unfortunately, they are hard to come by. If you happen to belong to a church that has one, be thankful.

    I have attended the Mass in the Extraordinary Form a couple of times now and I am impressed with the solemnity on display. I am also impressed with the music (which really, really shows up the usual fare used in most OF Masses – nothing by treacly, banal folk music that the choir leader insists on calling “contemporary”). I can see where people raised on the OF can react one of a couple of ways to the EF: repulsed, inspired, or unaffected (I’m sure there are more responses, but these are the ones I read most about). I find myself moved by the EF, but definitely uncomfortable in the setting. Perhaps going more often would alleviate some discomfort.

    I would be interested in attending an Anglican-use parish.

    Oh, and the EF Mass in my diocese is celebrated in a beautiful church, but one that is located in a very unsafe part of the city. It also gets no promotion from the diocese.

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  • Dunstan Harding

    I think the Anglican Use liturgy in America was designed with latin rite Catholics in mind, not Anglicans. It certainly appears to be more popular with them than with Episcopalians.

    Most of the Anglican Use parishes in the USA have more cradle Catholics joining the ten or so parishes to get away from the Novus Ordo than they have converts from Anglicanism.

    One parish started in the 1980s with several hundred members. Today it has over 3700 FAMILIES. With 60% of it’s members cradle-born Roman rite Catholics.

    Many Catholics who have become familiar with the “Book of Divine Worship” and have either attended the liturgies, or seen them on Youtube think it is the best English language liturgy the American Catholic Church has at the present. I definitely agree with them.

    Perhaps, Pope Benedict’s strategy is to use an Anglican liturgical patrimony in the US and throughout English speaking countries as a way to gradually end the Novus Ordo without abolishing it outright,. Maybe, as a way to beautify the NO along more traditional lines. That may way work and there are signs of that happening in America now.

    Will most Anglicans in Britain, the USA, and the Commonwealth accept his “generous” provisions? I strongly doubt it. Anglicanism is still a mainline protestant church at heart and I don’t see many of them accepting the papacy as it is presently offered to them. The Provision really doesn’t offer them anything other than a harbor for those who can’t tolerate women in the Anglican priesthood, or as bishops.
    (Former Anglican and now Greek Orthodox)

  • Sal

    Commentors are right in making the distinction between Anglicanism in the U.S. and in England or other former members of the Commonwealth. If any of the Forward in Faith parishes take advantage of the ordinariate, a large number of their members may be those who converted singly, but would like to attend the Anglican liturgy again. Full parishes- not so much. And I believe Liz has a point- many of those in break-away Anglican groups are fiercely loyal to their own vision of themselves as ‘already Catholic’ and would not be availing themselves of the offer.

    It’s all relative, Bender. Now that our EF community has a proper parish, instead of being crammed cheek by jowl into the Carmelite’s tiny chapel, our numbers have exploded. Either by old members returning, thanks to more space, or from new people, that we hadn’t any room for previously.
    That, plus the availibility of all the sacraments and being able to have a real parish life are all attractors.
    Still- we’re only talking about 700 or so people in a diocese of 200,000. So, we won’t be gaining the upper hand anytime soon- which we don’t want anyway.
    After nineteen years of other people’s hospitality, we’re just thrilled to be able to offer some of our own.

  • Fr. Bill in California


    The point is that the Archbishops of Canterbury did just that in England and in Ireland for that matter, too. The church buildings became Protestant, the monasteries and convents closed and the religious forced to recant their vows or be horribly martyred. The artwork of the churches was totally destroyed, including the stained glass windows. Much of what we recognize as Episcopalian is Catholic ritual and aesthetics reappropriated by Anglicans over the last 150- 200 years.

    My faith developed in the Episcopal Church is what points me, even compels me, to be a part of this reunion of our Church with its roots and with all of the past tradition eradicated since the Reformation. This is reconciliation, a family reunion. I pray that you and other Episcopalians will reconsider as this contemporary, restored English or Anglican Church grows.

    God bless you.

  • Liz

    Fr. Bill, no one is denying the rights of anyone who feels pointed to Rome to convert. What I am objecting to is the calculated disrespect.

    If there are really entire parishes of Anglicans just praying to join with the Catholic Church, then there is absolutely nothing stopping them. (Although that begs the question of why they haven’t already, if that’s the case – methinks it’s grossly exaggerated.) They could walk out en masse and really send a message by expanding the Catholic diocese while the Anglican one shrinks.

    That’s not what Rome is planning – they want the Anglican Church to cede its churches and parishes, on the basis that we’re apparently really Catholic, and truly dying to do so, even though we have not taken the numerous opportunities to do so already. Convert people, in as many numbers as you can, but please don’t act like we’re really Catholics and just don’t realise it. Centuries’ old injuries do not give you the right to take our churches.

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  • Bernard

    I don’t believe that there will be a mass movement into the Church as a result of this initiative by the Holy Father; rather, it should be seen in the same light as the Motu Proprio: as an effort to reach out to as many separated brethren as possible. I also think that it is an outreach to the Orthodox: you do not need to be afraid of being swallowed if you are ever reconciled to Rome.

  • AvantiBev

    I am NOT a “Latinist”; I am a ROMAN since the moment of my conception. Deo gratias.

  • AvantiBev

    Anchoress commented:[... "I would venture to say most priests around here, and they're good priests, wouldn't know how to do an EF if their lives depended on it. -admin]

    link and link

    both websites maintained by the pastor and priests of my parish, St. John Cantius in Chicago. The interest is intense and their classes usually fill up within 24 hours but now there is online instruction and feedback as well.

  • Andrew

    Liz, with respect the true minority with the Anglican Communion (especially amongst its leadership) are those who want to follow the historic Christian faith and traditional Anglicanism. Look around you, most Western Angican Communions are promoting things that go against the Scripture and the traditions of the Anglican Communion. Your pews have 2 types of people…1) the elderly 2) left-wingers who have joined the Anglican Church for every agenda under the sun other than orthodox Christianity (there are a few traditionalists left and they are hounded every step of the way by those with a liberal agenda). As a former Anglican, this makes me very sad to say. However, Anglicanism in the West is dying a fast death and openly persecutes traditional Anglicans (read Anglicans who actully believe in the traditional faith of the Anglican Church) within its ranks with a fearsome rage. We have now come to the point where traditional Anglicans have few safe harbours left (except Rome or Orthodoxy). That so called “majority” you claim probably has aversions to union with Rome because of all the other baggage they have. I am sorry but Anglicanism is now dead.

  • Liz

    Andrew, you have every right to believe that Anglicanism is dead. You have every right to convert to Catholicism. What you do not have the right to do is demand that the Anglican Church gives Rome its churches and parishes. Again, if people feel more inclined to Rome, they can and often do convert. We simply do not want to join our two churches, and take it as an insult that Rome does not even recognise us as a separate body, but as people who are really Catholic, and somehow don’t know it.

    “That so called “majority” you claim probably has aversions to union with Rome because of all the other baggage they have.”

    This makes no sense whatsoever. We. Do. Not. Wish. To. “Union”. With. Rome. This has many reasons, which you so casually disregard as “baggage”. Again, if we were wishing so hard to be Catholics, we would have converted. The fact that that is not, on the whole, happening, suggests that it is greatly exaggerated.

  • Andrew


    Rome doesn’t “want your churches” rather it has offered safe refuge for the many faithul Anglicans who have been persecuted by your Bishops. You seem to be ignoring the self-destruction of your own communion and what your hierarchy has done to faithful life-long Anglicans who do not want to go along with the re-shaping of their faith. To be frank, I don’t care if you find Rome’s offer to be insulting. When I was Anglican I was constantly being insulted by the abadonement liberal re-working of my Anglican heritage and faith, and now as a Catholic I (and the majority of Christendom…Catholics, Orthodox and Evangelicals) continue to be insulted by the innovations that come out of the Anglican Communion. Honestly, oo bad if you feel insulted. The damage liberal Anglican bishops have done to traditional Anglican priests, laity and parishes is beyond measure. At the same time, I should be allowed to maintain my liturgical and spiritual heritage as an Anglican whilst being in full communion with Rome (the very same See, which ironically the Archbishop of Canturbury derives his historic authority because St. Augustine of Canterbury was sent to England by the Pope). To begin with, many Anglicans are leaving and becoming Catholic. The decline in Anglican Church membership caused the Canadian Anglican Bishops to produce a report predicting the almost complete disapperance of the Anglican Church in Canada 2050 (Europe is no better). The only place that the Anglican Church is healthy is in Africa and Asia (except their bishops are dismissed by the West as backward and ignorant because of their orthooxy). In the West, no one is joing the Anglican Church (except those with other agendas). I would say that former Anglicans have every right to maintain their heritage in communion with Rome, and that Rome is not seeking to destory Anglicanism but rather will be saving it through this provision.

  • BernadetteY


    It was not the Pope who went to Anglicans offering them to come into the Church, it was Anglicans who approached Rome asking to be admitted, bringing with them their patrimony.

    There are many Anglican groups in the US who have been sued for their property by TEC.

    Rome doesn’t need Anglicans to give them back the property they stole from them hundreds of years ago. All the Anglican Use parishes have had to buy their own property and that is part of the sacrifice they have made to be part of the True Church. All for God.

    Anglicans can be so materialistic, many would rather stay in a church where they are taught heresy than to leave the building and enter into Christ’s Church. I know as it happened in my former parish.

    Of course the US is not England and England is very secular, as my daughter lived there for 3 years. Actually the ones who attended church most often were Catholics not Anglicans.

  • Andrew

    I feel I must clarify my previous posts and apologize for their tenor. The rancor that my have come through belies the sadness and frustration that many former Anglicans (and I am sure many present ones) feel over what has happened to the Communion after the last 40 years.

    What we have seen is an orchestrated and purposeful effort by a minority of agenda driven prelates and laity to remake the Communion in their own image. At the same time, those Anglicans who want to remain to what the Anglican Communion has always taught have been hounded, persecuted, marginalized and slandered by these people with little reprieve. It’s the injustice and hypocrisy of it all that is so infuriating and sad. This is why millions of Anglicans have already left for Rome or other churches, and the Anglican Communion in the West continues to wither (it is now clear that liberalism does not engender faith, but destroys it).

    As one who loved being Anglican and loved the Anglican patrimony the decision to leave was a hard one. I admire the Anglicans who continue to fight the good fight in the Anglican Communion, but alas many are realizing that the fight has been lost. This is why so many traditional Anglicans have petitioned Rome for full communion and safe refuge.

    It should be said that Rome does not want church buildings or seek to “steal sheep”. I would say in my opinion that some of these parishes should have the right to take their buildings with them as it was the people in that parish who built, maintained and paid for those buildings, nevertheless what is most important is adherence to the Gospel NOT infrastructure. What Rome is doing is responding to the many requests by Anglicans themselves for help. Remember it was Anglicans who approached Rome and asked for this. I thank God the Holy Father has risen above ecumenical political correctness and extended his hand in true pastoral charity to a group of people that liberal prelates in the Anglican Communion have been pushing out for years.

    I apologize for the lack of charity in the previous posts. Please understand though that many Anglicans have been deeply wounded by the political machinations of liberal prelates and that many of us lament the death of a once great branch of the Christian family. The wounds are still open.

    I left 15 years ago as an individual but this new initiative makes me very hopeful that some of the beauty and wisdom of English Christianity will continue in the world, and that Rome’s offer is not a mission of domination but rather an offer of preservation and refuge. I truly believe that the Anglican Patrimony’s only chance of survival is under the protection of the Apostolic See of Rome. Lets us all pray for one another.

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  • BernadetteY

    Dustin Harding,

    The same goes for the Anglicans who convert to the Orthodox, except the Orthodox are not united under one leader. There is little unity, except in liturgy within the Orthodox churches.

    Also it is very ethnic, except at the parishes where most are from the Anglican churches.

    Anglicans feel safe there are they feel it is more protestant than becoming Catholic.

    Easy divorce, contraception etc.

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