Another Anglican Bishop Answers Pope Benedict's Call to Unity

From James Bradley:


Another Anglican bishop answers Pope Benedict's call to unity

Former Anglican monk and bishop, Robert Mercer, has been received into the full communion of the Catholic Church by Monsignor Keith Newton through the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

On Saturday 7 January, Mgr Newton celebrated Mass according to the Book of Divine Worship at the historic church of St Agatha’s, Portsmouth, by kind permission of the Reverend John Maunder, who cares for the Traditional Anglican Communion faithful in that area.

Mgr Newton said, 'It is a great privilege to receive Robert into the fullness of Catholic life. He is a man of unimpeachable moral stature who, through his ministry in Africa and with the Community of the Resurrection, brings many valuable treasures of Anglican life into the Catholic Church'.

Robert Mercer was born in Zimbabwe and has been a member of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield, for 49 years. From 1977-89 he was the Anglican bishop of Matabeleland and from 1989-2005 he served as a bishop of the Traditional Anglican Catholic Church of Canada. He retired in 2005 and became the Episcopal Visitor to the Traditional Anglican Communion in the UK.

Six former Anglican bishops have now been reconciled to the Holy See through the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Author: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organized the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. He is also the CEO of Three Fish Consulting, LLC, an Information Technology consultancy based in Orlando, FL. He can be reached via email at ccampbell at threefish dot co.

97 thoughts on “Another Anglican Bishop Answers Pope Benedict's Call to Unity”

  1. The Episcopal Visitor to TTAC is actually Bp. David Moyer. Bp. Mercer performed various episcopal functions on behalf of Bp. Moyer, but didn't wish to take on an official role after retiring.

      1. And he holds Canadian and Irish citizenship (not British – and I presume definitely not Zimbabwean, since Mugabe told him not to come back…)

    1. He was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and went to Rhodesia in about 1970 when he ran into trouble with the SA government for his opposition to apartheid.

  2. It is peculiar to receive somebody into the full communion of the Catholic Church in a non-Catholic place of worship.
    When about to be received, TAC members are told that they are not validly confirmed and need to receive the sacrament. TAC clerics are told that they are not validly ordained. And yet here we have the Ordinary celebrating mass on a table which tomorrow (and probably earlier today) was used by a TAC cleric. It is one thing to be respectful of other people; it's another thing to confuse and muddy the waters like this.

      1. With all due respect, Fr. Barnes, you could actually respond to Noel's concerns instead of engaging in name-calling and rather uncharitably imputing ill-will. I think it is quite plausible that a disinterested or simple, and well-meaning observer could be confused by the facts and events cited by Noel.

    1. Please note that a TAC priest has celebrated the Holy Eucharist in Rome at St Agatha's Church, with the kind permission of the Priest in Charge, and with a very warm welcome.

      1. Not to get into this, but, these days, Rome will allow non-Catholic liturgies in Catholic churches. However, this is not something favoured by Latin traditionalists. I'll leave it at that.

        What saddens me more is that the Book of Divine Worship had to be used. I was hoping that he could be received in accordance with the 'Tridentine Rite', in Latin. That would have been quite legal. Of course, I did not expect it.


        1. I don't think that the BDW had to be used – it was a choice.
          For the record the service was partly in Latin as the choir sang the Missa de Angelis.

    2. This was in the context of a regular Ordinariate mass that is always held at St. Agatha's; a parish which hopes to follow Robert Mercer into the Ordinariate.

    3. Confused and muddy? Looks like pots and kettles to me Mr McFerran. Perhaps you are not up to speed with the authority of an Ordinary. Mgr Newton was of course asked and gave his permission for Catholic masses to be held in a non-Catholic setting. This is not as unusual as you seem to imply. Hospital and Army chaplains for example would be hard pressed if they could only follow your 'rules'. Incidentally you are also wrong about the process of reception. I was received at Easter and nobody asked me to deny anything about my prior membership of the Anglican church.

      1. I'd think it would be unusual to have a reception into the Catholic Church in a non-Catholic setting a bit confusing myself, though it seems the explanation of it being in a parish that the Ordinariate regularly uses and hopes to enter itself makes sense. Congratulations to him and may the rest of St. Agatha's not be far behind.

      2. I have made no "rules" of my own, nor have I implied anything other than what I wrote. Other people have chosen to infer things (which is their error). It's easy to argue against someone when you accuse him of saying things he didn't.
        The Ordinary clearly has the authority to make certain decisions; his decisions, however, are not infallible. I don't think that it is disrespectful to point out that receptions into Catholic communion are almost universally held in places of Catholic worship. People being received INTO the Catholic Church are usually received IN a Catholic church. There is a symbolism which has been lost here.

        1. You might be (or not) right in the matter, but you can hardly deny that the tone of your first post was quite passive-aggressive. The tone sets the music, no?

          1. "Tone" can very easily be misunderstood in the written word – and especially on the web. It's possible (and often a good thing) to assume good intentions on the part of others.

        2. Of course, the norm is that receptions into the faith are now usually made in places of Catholic worship. When I was young they were made almost clandestinely and, of course, in penal times they were often genuinely clandestine.

          Since an Ordinariate Group regularly uses St Agatha's for its services and since many TAC groups are actively seeking to be reunited with the Holy See it is most certainly fitting that the highly symbolic step of the reception of a former bishop into the Church (as a layman) should have taken place when and how it did.

          Reunion with Rome need not involve a diversion via Canossa.

        3. What you posted was perfectly right, Noel McFerran, and needs no apology. While I understand David Mercer's previous association with St Agatha's, Landport, it is the oddest place to choose for his reception. Imagine other Anglican clerics being received in the Anglican churches they once served. It is inconceivable.

          The only reason why St Agatha's returned to use as a church was due to a deal struck with the Royal Navy who had used it for many years as a store. It has a tiny congregation and appears mainly to be used for guitar concerts. But Mr Mercer should have been received in the Catholic Portsmouth Cathedral, a stone's throw away. St Agatha's is an anachronism.

          Mgr Newton must wear a mitre more often than any Monsignori in the Catholic Church. Surely they are only allowed to assume the mitre on rare occasions? But where does his authority come for using a crozier? I am genuinely perplexed and wish somebody would give an authoritative answer.

          1. John, you ask about authority. The authority for our Ordinary to wear ring, pectoral cross and mitre, and to carry a pastoral staff, is the Holy Father himself. You can read this in Anglicanorum Coetibus, where any former Anglican bishop may request persmission to resume the episcopal inginia. That Mgr Newton does so and the rest of us do not is simply because we want his office as Ordinary to be apparent – it has nothing to do with his being a Msgr, everything to do with being our Ordinary. I suspect too that he did not ask, but was told, what he ought to wear.

          2. John Bowles wrote, "Mr Mercer should have been received in the Catholic Portsmouth Cathedral".

            To be fair to the Ordinary, it is exceedingly difficult to receive someone into the Catholic Church without receiving criticism from some quarter. Formerly these criticisms were largely private; today (thanks to the Internet) they can be public, and receive an authoritativeness far beyond what they should.

            Had the Ordinary received Robert Mercer in Portsmouth Cathedral, he could have been accused of "triumphalism", or he could have been criticised for using the cathedral of "another" diocese (since the Ordinariate has few of its own churches). It is always a tightrope in trying to be clear on Catholic sacramental teaching but at the same time respectful of the previous ministry outside the Catholic Church.

            1. Given the good disposition of the retiring Bishop of Portsmouth to the Ordinariate, I would have thought that there would be no problem in receiving Mr Mercer in the cathedral. Mgr Newton has used other Catholic churches for receptions, as is proper.

              It still seems strange to me that St Agatha's was chosen, given its non-Catholic status. And, from what you posted earlier, it suggests that you, also, find it odd. Speaking for myself, when I was received into the Church as a laymen at Westminster Cathedral, reception in a non-Catholic churches would have been unimaginable. But they were different days. I hope, however, that Mr Mercer's reception will not create a precedent.

        4. You are correct on the point of the usual form for reception, Noel.

          I think, however, that we can all celebrate the fact that Msgr Newton is attempting to be generous and to expand the pastoral bounds here. This is his mandate and I found it very moving that as he affirmed the long and fruitful ministry of Bishop Mercer at the same time he recognized the ministry of the TAC and the unity towards which they are moving. Well done all round.

          BTW — When I was in Manchester on exchange some years ago, the hospital there had a single altar and at the altar of reservation there was a single tabernacle with two compartments — one for the Anglican and the other for the RC sacrament. I am not recommending this at all and it certainly is unusual but I raise the example to show that the shared altar and tabernacle did meet the pastoral demands as the local ordinaries saw fit and also offered a witness of unity to the extent possible. It is a very imperfect world and charity is always a good pastoral strategy.

          1. Many years ago a Jesuit prison chaplain was asked by an Anglican colleague if he could share the same tabernacle for reservation. He said no because it was a bad principle to mix live with dead ammunition. He had previously been a military chaplain.

      3. No, military chapels have always been allowed because they are neither Catholic nor non-Catholic; they are not the chapels of an non-Catholic denomination. In the old days, a non-Catholic church could not have been used.


      4. John-of-hayling wrote, "Incidentally you are also wrong about the process of reception. I was received at Easter and nobody asked me to deny anything about my prior membership of the Anglican church."

        Please do not accuse me of saying something which I did not say. I wrote, "When about to be received, TAC members are told that they are not validly confirmed and need to receive the sacrament.</em" I did not say that people are asked to deny something. There is, of course, a tacit presumption that the person being confirmed in a Catholic ceremony concurs that his Anglican confirmation was not the Catholic sacrament of confirmation. Otherwise, the person would be guilty of a sacrilege in attempting to receive the sacrament twice.

    1. I would like to add that I am overjoyed at Robert Mercer's entrance into the Ordinariate, despite reservations about the Rite used and the place. Mr. Mercer and others in the TAC have yearned for this for decades. One poster here mentioned that a TAC community at Portsmouth planned to follow him. I hope that Rome will accept the credentials of other TAC priests so that they may minister as priests in the Ordinariates.

      On the matter of liturgy, I do have reason to hope for the best, even if it does take three years under committees. I was only disappointed that the liturgical problem could not have been solved first. I have only been honest about my feelings on this. I did not mean to offend anyone here by harping on the issue. To me, the Anglicans can bring into union with Rome a glorious patrimony, one which amounts to a cultural treasure, and this can be wedded to what is best in the Traditional Roman Mass, by which I mean the Roman Offertory and Canon as it was before Bugnini largely destroyed the Roman Rite. I have not lost hope on this but, yes, it is bittersweet for me that the B.D.W. had to be used to receive this great man. Since his reception, the Latin Church is a wee bit holier, I think.


  3. I am so pleased to see Robert Mercer within the Catholic Church… and by the way, he was born in Southern Rhodesia. It brings to mind the old Rhodesian motto: Sit nomine digna — may we be worthy of the name.

  4. God bless you Bishop Mercer, I have enjoyed reading some of your writings on these pages over the last two years. Your leadership is a blessing. God Bless you and welcome to our big family.

  5. This was a wonderful occasion.Breathtakingly beautiful church,Missa de Angelis
    sung by a very able choir, concelebrated Mass,and the reception itself, so moving and inspiring.God Bless Robert Mercer.The fact that it was in a non Catholic church mattered not one whit….believe me.

  6. Giving thanks to God for your ministry within the The Traditional Anglican Communion during your retirement: you will be greatly missed as one of our bishops.

  7. What a symbol! Msgr. Newton is using the very same crozier he used when he was bishop of Richborough…

    + PAX et BONUM

  8. To the Anglican clergy here present,

    I was having a discussion recently with some other Anglican priests about this ongoing process, and the topic of putting aside the clericals for a time (or possibly for good) came up. Common consent was that setting the collar aside will be, whatever the circumstance, and for however long, very difficult.

    Seeing this holy man standing amidst his spiritual sons sans clericals should put any further discussion of the matter to bed, and humble any man who would think himself too good to do the same.

    1. Amen.

      Although I'm at a loss as to what to call the man now. I certainly can't call him "Robert". "Mr. Mercer" sounds kind of silly, for a man who is the closest thing to a living saint I've ever met.

      1. Well, laymen can be saints. But I know what you mean. One thinks of him as a Bishop. I am praying that he will be consecrated Bishop in the Cathoilc Church, whether of retirement age or not. Some Eastern prelates are elevated at advanced ages. It can be done. It would be fitting. This is bittersweet for me, however, owing to the use of the B.D.W.


          1. Yes he does — 3rd down in the left had column. You can just see his zucchetto, the chain of his pectoral cross and the piping on his cassock.

            1. Well, then, it is Brother Robert, I presume–use of the forename (unless he uses a name of profession) for a religious.


    2. Amen indeed!

      It is also worth bearing in mind that Robert Mercer's spiritual life was nourished by the Anglican Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield.

      When he announced his forthcoming reception into the Church to his TAC colleagues he wrote "I am just back from a quarterly residence at Mirfield. I desire and hope to remain a member of CR until I die……I am required to refrain from receiving communion at Anglican altars. If and when I am to be ordained I shall give you the dates"

      When one considers that Mirfield has long had a collaboration with a Benedictine monastery in Germany and that the monasticism of Mirfield and elsewhere is going to be increasingly out of place in the CofE as it is now developing, one must hope that other Anglicans called to the religious life will be likewise considering where their vocation should now take them.

      1. Mirfield is a ghost if what it was and is currently in process of wrecking the monastic church. The community is divided on the subject. Candidates who do not accept the ordination of women are not accepted at the College of the Resurrection. It has entirely accommodated itself to the current expression of the Church of England, a suicidal development that will probably lead to its dissolution.

        It will be interesting to see of David Mercer is able to remain a member when he is out of communion with his brethren. Fr Augustine Hoey also wanted to remain after his reception into the Church but this was not allowed. I suspect that the same verdict might also apply to Mr Mercer.

        1. A distinction has to be made between the College and the Community. I think only one member of the Community is now on the staff of the College.

          It must be the case that the direction the CofE has elected to follow will impact on all the monastic foundations still within the CofE.

        2. Mr Bowles – it is Robert Mercer not David – and he has obtained permission to remain a professed member of the Community of the Resurrection.

          1. A Catholic layman remaining a professed member of a Church of England religious community! Is it any wonder that questions have been raised by some Catholics regarding the way things are being handled?

        3. This is the second time you've referred to him as "David Mercer". His first name is Robert. (His middle names are William Stanley, incidentally.)

        4. Actually this is inaccurate. The monastic Church is not wrecked – it has been given a new lease of life (take a look at the pictures:

          Also, candidates opposed to the ordination of women are certainly accepted at the College. What makes you believe otherwise? I understand there were four such students in residence last year.

          Mourad says that "only one member of the Community is now on the staff of the College" – that member of staff is in fact the Principal of the College, Fr Peter Allan CR, and the relationship between the College and Community is continually being strengthened. Also, Fr Nicolas Stebbing CR teaches part-time, and Fr Thomas Seville CR is both librarian and tutor at the College.

          Check your facts please, gentlemen, before writing!

          1. Opinions about the renovation are subjective, but indicated styles and principles of belief and practice.

            I find it soulless and alienating, as I do the new cathedral in LA. It bespeaks "new church," pared down liturgy, and modernism.

            I'd find an over-decorated Baroque or fussy Sarum gothic interior far preferable. They should have gone back to the sombre and elaborate neo-Norman style. This looks like a sushi bar in an abandoned castle.

            1. The plans to wreck the monastic church at Mirfield were strongly opposed by the Twentieth Century Society. No respect whatever was given to the work of Sir Walter Tapper and his son, Michael, who designed and furnished it. It was denigrated. The present Superior even wanted to removed the tombs of Bishop Frere and Bishop Gore. That, I believe, was prevented.

              Judging from the photographs of the result, what it suggests is sterile vacuity, redolent of the liturgical ideals of forty years ago. The new altar is entirely disproportionate and the circle of blond-wood chairs does not remotely resemble a monastic quire. Given the present liturgical aims of the Catholic Church, it is hopelessly out of date.

              But other photographs on the CR's website are disturbing, not least one showing the great age of the members. Within twenty years, if that, it will be reduced to nothing.

              As for the College of the Resurrection, there must have been a revision of policy because I have known candidates who were not accepted because of their opposition to the ordination of women. But, given the lamentable state of Anglo-Catholicism in the Church of England, there will soon be no constituency to serve.

        5. There is much more to it than that – see the recent Times article: not only is Mercer remaining as a Brother of an Anglican Community but he is also continuing to live completely rent free in property specifically purchased for him and owned by this Anglican community. This at a time when the Community is scraping every penny together to try and recoup the massive hole in its finances as a result of refurbishing its church.

          1. I think the Mirfields Fathers are grown up enough to decide for themselves the way they administer their estates, and that you have no lecture to give them, either here or on Fr. Smut's blog. Besides, I feel that you are eager to create a scandal around a man who is real hero of the faith. Deceived not to have any reaction after your post on Fr. Smut's blog, you are now posting this here. Shame on you!

            + PAX et BONUM

    1. Ah, someone finally mentions the elephant in the livingroom. Mercer said before that he would cross into the Ordinariate with some of his clergy at Easter. This did not happen. Now he has crossed the Tiber alone. How many will follow? How many will Rome approve for proceeding to priesthood? There were 24 TAC priests in England, according to Mercer himself. Now there are 23.


  9. The chap who worried about the mitre should not be unduly concerned. Unordained Abbots were allowed to wear mitres and have croziers. Also Abbesses could also use croziers..

    St Agatha's church does not belong to the Church of Engalnd and is owned by the local council.. they use it for all sorts of things and loan it to the TAC on a Sunday.

    1. Partly correct Robert. The council concerned is not the local city one, but the County Council. They have in turn handed over the running of the building to the St Agatha's Trust, and all events that take place there are run by the Trust. Fr Maunder takes a TAC mass on Saturdays and Sundays and on feast days in the week.

      1. Dear Fr. or Mr. David:

        Do you have any sense of how many TAC priests will be considered for ordination should they enter the Ordinariate in England? I have not heard of any at all being granted the nulla osta, apart from Robert Mercer.


          1. Dear Mr. Bowles:

            On the contrary, their quality is very high, as they were not miseducated and formed in heresy at Anglican seminaries and theological colleges. As a result, they will not have to spent six or seven years unlearning their errors but can proceed almost directly to ordination.


            1. I have spoken about Catholic seminary studies with several convert clergymen of the days before the estalishment of the Ordinariate. They all said that as far as scripture, sacramentals, systematic theology, liturgy and Christology were concerned the instruction they received in the seminaries was identical to what they had been taught in Anglican theological colleges. The main difference lay in canon law and ecclesiology. Make of that what you will.

          2. Are you ready to be surprised Mr Bowles?
            At this precise moment none of those who submitted dosiers have received a reply. So you can read that how you wish. It could be as you suggest that the quality is poor – but why not reply in the negative and explain this point? However it could be that the dossiers have just not yet been looked at! The Vatican seems to attract the same sort of comments that british Europhobics make about Brussels – namely that there is a great big bureaucracy and it is up to no good! The Vatican has been likened by someone who should know as having two men and a fax machine on this case!.Hence there may well be some delay.

            1. I don't intend to name names but I have encountered some of these clerics in previous incarnations and all of them were little better than spiky sacristy boys who had been rejected by ACCM; none had any qualifications to speak of.

              Their ordinations have the aura of the Episcope Vagantes and their present ministry is analogous. The numbers to whom they minister at infrequent services are minimal and in some instances may be non-existent. Perhaps you were one of them?

              This also seems like the religion of the garage or the back bedroom. What the CDF makes of this record remains to be seen.

  10. Methinks too many of you protest too much.

    I, as Pastor to the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth Ordinariate Group organised the mass which included the reception of Brother Robert Mercer, and I was the one who asked my Ordinary for permission to offer this mass, once a month – as I have been doing now for five months, in this non-Catholic former-Anglican place of worship, since some of my Group of former Anglicans live in and around Portsmouth and we need to keep the Group together. That's all perfectly natural, as it was that this former Anglican Bishop should be received in the context of the regular monthly Ordinariate Mass held at St Agatha's, courtesy of St Agatha's Trust. The Book of Divine Worship Rite 1 was not "chosen" for the occasion; it's what we use on every occasion at St Agatha's and also on Sundays in Ryde for the IOW contingent of our Group – not ideal, but authorised for interim use (and expressive of aspects of our patrimony) until the specifically Ordinariate eucharistic liturgy is authorised. It was providential that Brother Mercer is deeply infused with the Book of Common Prayer.

    Fr Jonathan Redvers Harris
    Ryde IOW

    1. "Former Anglican": members of Anglican use parishes in the USA are happy to describe themselves as Anglican as well as Catholic. In England Anglicans entering the Ordinariate have been told, "You will not be Anglican, but Catholic".

      1. As an American member of our Anglican Use Society told our Roman Catholic bishop with proper emphasis, "We are Anglicans in communion with Rome"

        Note the emphasis on the Anglican and Rome!

        1. Fr. Steenson seems to address this in his interview with 'The Living Church Foundation", linked to from the Ordinariate's facebook page:

          "In fact, says the Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson, Anglican does not appear in the new body’s formal name, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, because members will make no pretense of remaining Anglicans. And anyone who wants to enter the Ordinariate because of anger toward Anglicanism rather than a desire for deeper communion with the Roman Catholic Church probably ought to wait."

      2. As a member of an Anglican Use Parish since 1994, I have never heard anyone say they are Anglican, everyone I know refers to themselves as Catholics.
        So Black Sambo, what is your source for this statement, are you a member of an Anglican Use parish.?

        1. I expect there are regional differences based upon being from the Northeast United States or being from Texas. I'd expect Fr. Phillips would not even say that he gave up being Anglican when be became Catholic, though I don't think he'd ever state that he is an Anglican in communion with Rome.

  11. On the subject of the TAC, it is not unreasonable to assume that the CDF – which has limited resources as does the Ordinariate – has not unwisely decided to do things in stages. After all, in theory there was nothing to prevent the erection of Ordinariates in several jurisdictions on the same day. Instead, England and Wales were covered first and a year later the US Ordinariate was erected. Is it possible that the CDF decided to wait and see what problems arose in the UK with Anglicans crossing from the CofE so as the better to prepare for the likely larger influx in the USA.?

    It it not also possible that the CDF decided to put the whole of the TAC "on hold" while it decided about what was once sought which I, at any rate, had understood to be a claim to come over as a single body preserving the whole TAC structure – which I suspect the CDF may have decided was not appropriate.

    I do indeed hope that the reception of Brother Robert means that the consideration of TAC applications will move forward in year 2 of the OLW. I suspect the CDF will probably be thinking more about the situation of the TAC and other "spun off" Anglican jurisdictions more by reference to North America and Australia than to the UK because numerically the English numbers are so low.

  12. Let's open this can of worms. Fr. Scott Hurd has stated that the admission of former Anglican/Episcopalians (who were were received into the Roman Catholic Church prior to 2009), is questionable. The quote from the National Catholic Register is below. I am really surprised that he could make such a statement, which I believe flies in the face of what is contained within the Apostolic Constitution. Is the intent to keep the Ordinariate numbers small and insignificant? What is the intent of such an outrageous statement? Since the Ordinary was received into the Catholic Church before 2007, Fr. Steenson, I suppose he may not be able to become a "card carrying" member of the Ordinariate.

    Comments anyone? As one of those former Anglicans, I would be most interested in what people have to say. Feel free to criticize me for bringing this forth or the manner in which I have expressed my point, but above all, provide me with clarification on this matter, because I feel rather muddled.

    Asked about former Episcopalians who came into the Church before 2009, Father Hurd said that Anglicanorum Coetibus (Concerning Groups of Anglicans), the document that authorized the ordinariates, is vague about their status. However, he added that clarifying the status of these former Episcopalians is “on top of our inbox.”
    They will be able to worship with the ordinariate, as will other Catholics, but Father Hurd said it’s not yet clear whether they can become “card-carrying members” of the Chair of St. Peter Ordinariate.

    1. Part of the issue is those formerly in the Anglican Communion that had already come into full communion with the Catholic Church. Since Cardinal Wuerl was designated and brought Fr. Hurd aboard, I can't say I've seen any discussion from them as to those that left the Anglican Communion some years ago and have been waiting to enter full communion even in advance of Anglicanorum Coetibus (which had seemed to be in response to their requests). All I can recall hearing about in the past year are two Episcopal communities that were received in advance of the Ordinariate with the understanding that they would become part of it (did they get that in writing?).

  13. Two things:

    1. Anglicanorum Coetibus, apart from its subtitle ("for Anglicans") uses the language of "former" or "previously" Anglican;
    2. There is no time-relatedness to this former state of being Anglican. If a former Anglican entered into full Communion with the Catholic Church 50 years ago then that's still fine for eligibility for membership of an Ordinariate. The Apostolic Constitution and the decrees of erection (pretty much identical for England & Wales and the US) make it clear that as long as a person was originally Anglican then he or she may become a member of an Ordinariate, and a previously-Anglican cleric, who has already been ordained in the Catholic Church and incardinated in a diocese, is able to be incardinated in an Ordinariate.

  14. Father Redvers-Harris is quite correct. There is, however, quite a difference between a former Anglican clergyman seeking to enter into communion for the first time and one who was received some time previously and who is now incardinated in a diocese.

    In the first case, the matter is handled by the Ordinary and his staff under the guidelines laid down by the CDF.

    In the case of a former Anglican now ordained and incardinated in a diocese, the ordinary provisions of the Code of Canon Law apply: viz:

    Can. 265 Every cleric must be incardinated either in a particular church or personal prelature, or in an institute of consecrated life or society endowed with this faculty, in such a way that unattached or transient clerics are not allowed at all.

    Can. 267 §1. For a cleric already incardinated to be incardinated validly in another particular church, he must obtain from the diocesan bishop a letter of excardination signed by the same bishop and a letter of incardination from the diocesan bishop of the particular church in which he desires to be incardinated signed by that bishop.

    §2. Excardination thus granted does not take effect unless incardination in another particular church has been obtained.

    Can. 268 §1. A cleric who has legitimately moved from his own particular church to another is incardinated in the latter particular church by the law itself after Five years if he has made such a desire known in writing both to the diocesan bishop of the host church and to his own diocesan bishop and neither of them has expressed opposition in writing to him within four months of receiving the letter.

    §2. Through perpetual or definitive admission into an institute of consecrated life or into a society of apostolic life, a cleric who is incardinated in the same institute or society according to the norm of ⇒ can. 266, §2 is excardinated from his own particular church.

    Can. 269 A diocesan bishop is not to allow the incardination of a cleric unless:
    1/ the necessity or advantage of his own particular church demands it, and without prejudice to the prescripts of the law concerning the decent support of clerics;
    2/ he knows by a lawful document that excardination has been granted, and has also obtained from the excardinating bishop, under secrecy if need be, appropriate testimonials concerning the cleric’s life, behavior and studies;
    3/ the cleric has declared in writing to the same diocesan bishop that he wishes to be dedicated to the service of the new particular church according to the norm of law.

    Can. 270 Excardination can be licitly granted only for just causes such as the advantage of the Church or the good of the cleric himself. It cannot be denied, however, except for evident, grave causes. A cleric who thinks he has been wronged and has found an accepting bishop, however, is permitted to make recourse against the decision."<

    Can. 271 §1. Apart from the case of true necessity of his own particular church, a diocesan bishop is not to deny permission to clerics, whom he knows are prepared and considers suitable and who request it, to move to regions laboring under a grave lack of clergy where they will exercise the sacred ministry. He is also to make provision that the rights and duties of these clerics are determined through a written agreement with the diocesan bishop of the place they request.

    §2. A diocesan bishop can grant permission for his clerics to move to another particular church for a predetermined time, which can even be renewed several times. Nevertheless, this is to be done so that these clerics remain incardinated in their own particular church and, when they return to it, possess all the rights which they would have had if they had been dedicated to the sacred ministry there.

    §3. For a just cause the diocesan bishop can recall a cleric who has moved legitimately to another particular church while remaining incardinated in his own church provided that the agreements entered into with the other bishop and natural equity are observed; the diocesan bishop of the other particular church, after having observed these same conditions and for a just cause, likewise can deny the same cleric permission for further residence in his territory.

    Thus a former Anglican Catholic Priest incardinated in a diocese has first to consider whether he wishes to be part of the Ordinariate.

    He then has to find out if the Ordinariate is willing to take him – bearing in mind that incardinating a priest involves a significant financial obligation.

    Once he has the Ordinary's agreemement, then he applies to his own diocesan for excardination. Note the provision that excardination can only be denied for a very good reason.

    In practice, especially in the early days, it is probable that an ordinariate will be clergy heavy and laity light. That is certainly the case of the OLW Ordinariate, many of the groups are quite small, and only two or three can yet be considered truly self-supporting – even considering that stipends in the Catholic Church are fixed very much lower than those in the CofE.

    Therefore the Ordinariate works in collaboration with the dioceses to put the available priests to good use and on the whole the E&W dioceses seem to have been remarkably co-operative.

    The same need to work with the diocesans will probably also be true in the initial stages of the TCP Ordinariate. I note that Fr Steenson has already made reference to starting up in "Apostolic Poverty".

    It may therefore be that the first priority will be to deal with the "first wave" of incoming clergy knocking on the door and that priests already on a "diocesan roster" will be asked to wait a while until things are a little more organised.

    1. That's a good general summary. I'd think there will be at least some priests that are currently incardinated in a diocese which have no financial concerns that would require them remaining incardinated in their diocese. It would seem that there would be a fair number among the laity that came into full communion prior to the Ordinariates but would be very much interested in the Ordinariate. It would seem that rather than being some second or third wave, these would be a pre-wave. As long as some record is kept of their interest, then it should make matching up priests and communities an easier task. If on the other hand no record is kept which would show potential communities, you would wind up with new priests being encouraged to become part of a diocese from which they may later find some difficulty removing themselves from. If in fact records of the earlier arrivals that are interested in their Anglican Patrimony then there may be no problem. The usual answer seems to be that it will occur at some unknown future date but there is no interest in doing so at this point.

  15. An Anglican is a person in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. A Catholic is a person in communon with the Bishop of Rome.

    1. That sounds very logical Robert. However in the non-ideal world that we inhabit there is some blurring around the edges. There are people who consider themselves as Anglicans and yet are not in communion with the ABC. And there are also people who think of themselves as Catholics who are not in communion withe Rome. The former group would include the TAC and the latter could be the SSPX.

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