Cardinal Wuerl on the Status of a U.S. Ordinariate

From Catholic News Agency:

Washington D.C., Feb 4, 2011 / 01:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl said in an interview that the Catholic Church has sent out questionnaires to learn more about U.S. Anglicans who have expressed an interest in becoming Catholic. A sufficiently large response would mean the creation of an Anglican ordinariate in the U.S.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has named Cardinal Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, as its delegate to assist Anglican groups who want to become Catholic through the ordinariate, a special church structure similar to a diocese.

“We’re hearing from those Anglican communities and those Anglicans who wish to explore more fully what the ordinariate will mean and who wish to be a part of it,” the cardinal told CNA in a Jan. 31 interview.

The first step is to respond to all U.S. Anglicans who have indicated an interest in the ordinariate and to learn more about them.

“Questionnaires have gone out asking them to identify more clearly who they are and what the nature is of their current community,” Cardinal Wuerl explained. “The goal is to determine whether there is a response substantial enough to warrant the establishment of an ordinariate here in the U.S.”

“We’ve already seen how the Holy See, at the request of Pope Benedict, has established an ordinariate in England, Our Lady of Walsingham. And that would probably be a model for what we would do here in the U.S.”

“We’re a little ways off yet,” he said.

Anglicans entering the Catholic Church will need faith formation, and the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, prepared by the U.S. bishops, will be “at the heart” of that process, Cardinal Wuerl reported.

“That much we can say. We already have the tools.

“Our next step now is to have the Holy See determine whether there are sufficient numbers and sufficient response to establish an ordinariate.”

In recent decades the Anglican Communion has suffered division over theological and moral issues, including the ordination of women as priests and bishops and sexual ethics.

In November 2009, Pope Benedict XVI issued the apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus,” which allowed the creation of ordinariates for Anglicans who want to become Catholic while retaining aspects of their heritage and liturgy.

The ordinariates are similar to dioceses but can be led by either a bishop or a priest. Members of an ordinariate are under the jurisdiction of its leader, the “ordinary,” even if they reside in another bishop’s canonical territory.

The Vatican established the first Anglican ordinariate in England and Wales on Jan. 15. The Catholic bishops of Canada, under the leadership of Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, are currently reaching out to Anglicans in their country.

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24 thoughts on “Cardinal Wuerl on the Status of a U.S. Ordinariate

  1. Everybody,

    The article attributes the following to Cardinal Wuerl: Our next step now is to have the Holy See determine whether there are sufficient numbers and sufficient response to establish an ordinariate.

    I must say that I am completely miffed by this comment. The existing "Anglican Use" congregations — a dozen well established parishes and quasi-parishes with several more in the forming stage — should be sufficient to support erection of an ordinariate for the United States. I have no doubt that a large influx in its formative stages will require planning for a different organizational structure, and may even justify erection of two or three regional ordinariates rather than just one, but I find it very difficult to believe the implication that there may not be an ordinariate in the United States.

    BWDIK?

    Norm.

    1. You might just consider that whether there is enough demand in the USA isn't Cardinal Wuerl's call to make, but that of the CDF and the Holy Father. Cardinal's Wuerl's job is to gather information and facilitate matters. His choice of words simply indicates respect for the assigned division of responsibility in this matter.

    2. I too am somewhat mystified by this comment. We have been led to believe all along that an Anglican Ordinariate for the U.S.A. was a foregone conclusion, simply a matter of time.

      I'm sure Cardinal Wuhrl is looking at the responses he's been receiving, and may have communicated to Rome that it is now best to start peddling backwards and lowering expectations. There's no denying the Ordinariate is a much tougher sell for American Anglicans than for communicants in the Church of England, Canada, and most of the British Commonwealth. Nigeria has to be a super challenge.

      American Anglicanism has such a diverse body of adherents who either come from other mainline Protestant churches carrying their anti-papal and other forms of anti-Roman baggage with them, former Unitarians and Quakers, those who simply "attend" the Episcopal Church, but have not been confirmed in it. Then you have a large and growing body of former Roman Catholics who have split themselves off from Rome for a wide variety of reasons.

  2. I imagine the USCCB has been very disappointed with the sales numbers for the U.S. Catechism for Adults. Is this why Cardinal Wuerl puts it "at the heart" of the formation process rather than the CCC?

    Personally it seems ridiculous to me that he still questions whether there are sufficient numbers or not. I feel it is time for the Holy See to establish the Ordinariate, name the first Ordinary, and have Cardinal Wuerl assist that Ordinary as needed but otherwise not intrude.

    1. Daniel,

      You asked: I imagine the USCCB has been very disappointed with the sales numbers for the U.S. Catechism for Adults. Is this why Cardinal Wuerl puts it "at the heart" of the formation process rather than the CCC?

      I doubt it.

      There's a mindset among some pastors of the Catholic Church that it's best to do a full program of catechesis with those who come from other Christian denominations to ensure that they get whatever might have been missed in the formation that they received. The general instructions in the Order of Reception of Baptized Christians into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church state explicitly that the candidates are to go through a period of instruction and formation tailored to their individual circumstances (prior spiritual and doctrinal formation, maturity in the Christian faith, etc.) before reception, yet these pastors disregard this instruction and instead subject all candidates for reception to the same program of formation given to those who know nothing of the Christian faith.

      That said, the Vatican never intended the Catechism of the Catholic Church for use in formation at the parish level. Rather, the Vatican intended the Catechism of the Catholic Church to be a guide for the content of catechetical materials used at the parish level. When a publisher such as Sadlier publishes a series of catechetical books for grades 1-12 for use in parish religious education programs, for example, that series of books should cover the entire content of the Catechism of the Catholic Church over the span of twelve years such that those who complete the whole series receive a comprehensive formation in the Catholic understanding of Christian faith. Of course, it's also expected that the materials in the series intended for each grade will explain the concepts of faith that it covers in a manner suitable for its intended audience.

      Personally it seems ridiculous to me that he still questions whether there are sufficient numbers or not. I feel it is time for the Holy See to establish the Ordinariate, name the first Ordinary, and have Cardinal Wuerl assist that Ordinary as needed but otherwise not intrude.

      Part of Cardinal Wuerl's task undoubtedly is making recommendations as to how to structure the ordinatiates who the ordinary (or ordinaries?) should be.

      Norm.

  3. This news seems odd, in light of the fact that, at least, to me the US has as many if not more parishes and priests who want to enter the Ordinariate than the other countries.

    What are the questions that the Cardinal is planning to ask? Has this been done with the others i.e. England, Australia or Canada?

    1. Other countries have many more "cradle born" Anglicans with a large percentage of them in the High Church and Anglo-Catholic wing. The Protestant Episcopal Church and many of the offshoots from it, not to mention the fast growing evangelical Anglicans, don't come from this wing and they never have. For them, the Oxford Movement is a quaint historical phenomenon creating the smells and bells part of the church'sliturgy, and not much else.

      They never have had and see no need to make an investment in the Anglican Ordinariate. As for the former Roman Catholic members, I suspect most of them will stay there and have no intention of returning to a church from which they've been alienated.

  4. It seems to me that I count more existing Anglican Use Catholics that there are members of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham at present! If eight was a sufficient start for England and Wales, that has already been exceeded here. I don't believe that the English-Welsh Ordinariate was established with a guarantee of numbers, or that the CDF will get its money back if they aren't acheieved!

    1. Has Father Philips ever done a study of the membership of his parish? How many of them today are former Anglicans, former "Other" Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, and how many are cradle-born Roman rite Catholics drawn to the beauty of the liturgies celebrated in his parish?

      One might be able to extrapolate from such a study what could be expected as a short-term and long-term response to the Ordinariate in the United States.

  5. This is a sort of Catch-22 proposition. Larger numbers are needed for an Ordinariate and yet numbers will not increase without an Ordinariate. But there is a little reality check needed here: the Catholic Church is large and what Anglicans define as a parish (average Sunday attendance in the Episcopal Church now is down to an average of 85) is about equivalent to the number of altar boys in a Catholic parish, and the average Episcopal Church diocese is smaller than many single Catholic parishes. The Holy See would find it difficult to justify establishing a new canonical Ordinariate unless there is substantial support to begin with and the prospect of significant growth.

    1. Bill,

      You wrote: But there is a little reality check needed here: the Catholic Church is large and what Anglicans define as a parish (average Sunday attendance in the Episcopal Church now is down to an average of 85) is about equivalent to the number of altar boys in a Catholic parish, and the average Episcopal Church diocese is smaller than many single Catholic parishes.

      Well, that's not really the whole story. If you journey into the rural farmlands of middle America, you'll find many Catholic parishes with perhaps a hundred families, and in many cases even fewer. Some years ago, there was an adage in the midwest to the effect that that the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which is predominantly suburban, had three priests per parish while the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, which is mostly rural, had three parishes per priest. While it's a bit of an oversimplification, there's a lot of truth in it. Many Catholic clergy in the midwest do serve three or four parishes that are perhaps ten or twenty miles apart. They typically have mass in one parish on Saturday evening, mass in a second parish around 8:00 or 9:00 on Sunday morning, and mass in the third parish at 11:00 or 12:00 on Sunday. If there's a fourth parish, two of the parishes share a mass time and have a lay-led communion service in lieu of mass on alternate weeks.

      Actually, the Diocese of Juneau (Alaska) is probably the smallest diocese in the United States in terms of population. In addition to its fairly modest cathedral in Juneau, it has perhaps a dozen or so parishes and missions in many small communitie along Alaska's Inside Passage where the primary means of intercity transportation is the "Alaska Marine Highway" ferry system. I don't see any reason why an ordinariate should have to be any larger than that.

      Norm.

  6. Well, it does seem to be a recycled story. Perhaps the good Cardinal is not up to the task at hand. Pressure from TEC perhaps? I just hope this isn't some reactionary move on the part of liberal bishops to stall implementation of the Ordinariate.
    If all the TAC congregations have submitted their request and indicated their numbers I would think that would be sufficient to get the ball rolling.
    Trying not to be impatient or suspicious but one does wonder.
    Received Cardinal Wuerhl's new book on The Mass. Haven't cracked it open yet but hope to this weekend.

    1. The "good Cardinal" is perhaps the most qualified at the moment. With a few exceptions, I'd say there are very few members of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops who are eager to even see an Ordinariate established. I've heard from some friends who are chancery officials. Some ordinaries are already groaning about such an institution weakening "their power" as diocesan bishops.

      Bishops like government bureaucrats, are noted defenders of their turf. They will ferociously fight to keep it.

  7. I agree with Norm, this is a really unfortunate way for Cardinal Wuerl to look at the situation. My paranoia is beginning to kick in here: there are those who really do not like the whole idea of an ordinariate, being of the old "unconditional surrender" school, apparently (the AU seems barely to have fit into that way of thinking). I originally wrote a lot more graphic stuff about what I think (based on some evidence) may be being said, but I refrain here for fear of scandalizing and discouraging anyone. Let's keep the faith and pray that all will be well. Pope Benedict, who, I am coming to believe, may well be the providential man the Church has so badly needed, will make sure this comes out right.

    1. Woody,

      Let's keep the faith and pray that all will be well. Pope Benedict, who, I am coming to believe, may well be the providential man the Church has so badly needed, will make sure this comes out right.

      Yes. Pope Benedict XVI is a very prudent and discerning pastor and a brilliant theologian in whom I have absolute confidence!

      Norm.

  8. Dear friends,

    As one who can speak authoritatively on this matter, I would suggest that Michael de Verteul's wise words bear close consideration.

    Peace,

    Father Scott Hurd
    USCCB Liaison for Anglicanorum coetibus

  9. Somebody (maybe Fr. Zuhlsdorf) has said that, when Summorum Pontificum was promulgated, the bishops started to think about complying with Ecclesia Dei. Can it be that, now that Anglicanorum Coetibus has been promulgated, the
    American bishops are beginning to think about implementing the Pastoral Provisions?

  10. Dear Fr. Hurd,

    Anglicans wating to hear about the establishment of an Ordinariate in the US, are very anxious at this time. Many probably read into anything written with their own interprestation of the meaning and ,of course, although well intention are going by emotions. As we all know waiting is the most difficult time for those who want to be fully Catholic. Patience is a virtue that we all must strive for.

    Thank you for your response and the fact that you are watching over Anglicans headed for the Ordinariate.

  11. As a cradle Catholic of 49 years, I have developed some familiarity with how the Catholic Church communicates. I can honestly say that I read nothing in Cardinal Wuerl's comments that suggested reasons for the concerns expressed above. Perhaps this is a tiny difference in Catholic and Anglican culture or just the simple fact that I'm looking forward to the impending American ordinariate with the joyful anticipation of an observer rather than any oh-so-close-but-so-far away angst of those who have worked and prayed so hard for this for years.

    Let's allow Fr. Hurd's gracious comment to settle everyone's hearts.

  12. Many are the faithful who dreamed of these times and did not experience it. May we thank the Lord that we are about to partake of the fruits their prayers and labors. Let us be just as faithful since it will be those who follow us who will, Lord willing, thank God for our faithfulness.

  13. Anglo Catholicism went on a different evolutionary path in the USA as compared to England. For instance Anglican Use never happened in England as the "Roman Option". Also there are a diversity of Anglo-Catholic groups in the USA. This is reflected by the diversity of views on what Mass book should the future American Ordinariate use. The diversity of backgrounds will require a creative way of catechizing the Anglican coming home. In England, this discussion is not as diverse and the Anglicans were already almost 100% catechized in the CCC. The Cardinal has a point in issuing his statement and we shouldn't get miffed, not yet.

    However, the existence of the Anglican Use and how this is flourishing in many places should give Rome pause of thought on how to erect an American Ordinariate. It is not whether to erect one or not. The debate has moved on from that!

    Also Anglican Use flourished only in US dioceses that were supportive. They are parishes under the local diocesan. The Anglican Use parishes still haven't raised anyone one of them to the episcopacy. In contrast, the Anglo-Catholics in England as a result of the Church of England decision to ordain women, had been grouped into quasi-dioceses under "flying bishops". The Anglo-Catholics were already organized as a larger particular church (and that also includes the tiny English TAC church) Thus it was not hard for Rome to decide that the first members of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham were three ex Anglican bishops and three sisters. The Anglican bishops had the experience of running a diocese and so it wasn't a surprise that Rev Keith Newton was made ordinary. If Rev Newton were not married, he could have been ordained bishop right there and then!

    In the USA one of the biggest questions is who will be the Ordinary? Of course we may have names on our personal "terna", but will the Ordinary be an Anglican Use priest given the functions of a bishop? Would he be a Latin Rite bishop or priest who is very familiar with the Anglican Use? Would the Ordinary be a recent convert from the Episcopal Church?

    There are so much issues the American Anglicans/Episcopalians and Rome that have to sorted out. So I wouldn't be surprised if the American Ordinariate is on a slower speed than the English one.

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