Anglicanorum Coetibus




In recent times the Holy Spirit has moved groups of Anglicans to petition repeatedly and insistently to be received into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately. The Apostolic See has responded favorably to such petitions. Indeed, the successor of Peter, mandated by the Lord Jesus to guarantee the unity of the episcopate and to preside over and safeguard the universal communion of all the Churches,[1] could not fail to make available the means necessary to bring this holy desire to realization.

The Church, a people gathered into the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,[2] was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, as “a sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all people.”[3] Every division among the baptized in Jesus Christ wounds that which the Church is and that for which the Church exists; in fact, “such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching the Gospel to every creature.”[4] Precisely for this reason, before shedding his blood for the salvation of the world, the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father for the unity of his disciples.[5]

It is the Holy Spirit, the principle of unity, which establishes the Church as a communion.[6] He is the principle of the unity of the faithful in the teaching of the Apostles, in the breaking of the bread and in prayer.[7] The Church, however, analogous to the mystery of the Incarnate Word, is not only an invisible spiritual communion, but is also visible;[8] in fact, “the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, the visible society and the spiritual community, the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches, are not to be thought of as two realities. On the contrary, they form one complex reality formed from a two-fold element, human and divine.”[9] The communion of the baptized in the teaching of the Apostles and in the breaking of the eucharistic bread is visibly manifested in the bonds of the profession of the faith in its entirety, of the celebration of all of the sacraments instituted by Christ, and of the governance of the College of Bishops united with its head, the Roman Pontiff.[10]

This single Church of Christ, which we profess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic “subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside her visible confines. Since these are gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity.”[11]

In the light of these ecclesiological principles, this Apostolic Constitution provides the general normative structure for regulating the institution and life of Personal Ordinariates for those Anglican faithful who desire to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church in a corporate manner. This Constitution is completed by Complementary Norms issued by the Apostolic See.

I. §1 Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church are erected by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith within the confines of the territorial boundaries of a particular Conference of Bishops in consultation with that same Conference.

§2 Within the territory of a particular Conference of Bishops, one or more Ordinariates may be erected as needed.

§3 Each Ordinariate possesses public juridic personality by the law itself (ipso iure); it is juridically comparable to a diocese.[12]

§4 The Ordinariate is composed of lay faithful, clerics and members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, originally belonging to the Anglican Communion and now in full communion with the Catholic Church, or those who receive the Sacraments of Initiation within the jurisdiction of the Ordinariate.

§5 The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith professed by members of the Ordinariate.

II. The Personal Ordinariate is governed according to the norms of universal law and the present Apostolic Constitution and is subject to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the other Dicasteries of the Roman Curia in accordance with their competencies. It is also governed by the Complementary Norms as well as any other specific Norms given for each Ordinariate.

III. Without excluding liturgical celebrations according to the Roman Rite, the Ordinariate has the faculty to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical celebrations according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See, so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.

IV. A Personal Ordinariate is entrusted to the pastoral care of an Ordinary appointed by the Roman Pontiff.

V. The power (potestas) of the Ordinary is:

a. ordinary: connected by the law itself to the office entrusted to him by the Roman Pontiff, for both the internal forum and external forum;

b. vicarious: exercised in the name of the Roman Pontiff;

c. personal: exercised over all who belong to the Ordinariate;

This power is to be exercised jointly with that of the local Diocesan Bishop, in those cases provided for in the Complementary Norms.

VI. § 1. Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law[13] and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments[14] may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. In the case of married ministers, the norms established in the Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI Sacerdotalis coelibatus, n. 42[15] and in the Statement In June[16] are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1.

§ 2. The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as a derogation from can. 277, §1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.

§ 3. Incardination of clerics will be regulated according to the norms of canon law.

§ 4. Priests incardinated into an Ordinariate, who constitute the presbyterate of the Ordinariate, are also to cultivate bonds of unity with the presbyterate of the Diocese in which they exercise their ministry. They should promote common pastoral and charitable initiatives and activities, which can be the object of agreements between the Ordinary and the local Diocesan Bishop.

§ 5. Candidates for Holy Orders in an Ordinariate should be prepared alongside other seminarians, especially in the areas of doctrinal and pastoral formation. In order to address the particular needs of seminarians of the Ordinariate and formation in Anglican patrimony, the Ordinary may also establish seminary programs or houses of formation which would relate to existing Catholic faculties of theology.

VII. The Ordinary, with the approval of the Holy See, can erect new Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, with the right to call their members to Holy Orders, according to the norms of canon law. Institutes of Consecrated Life originating in the Anglican Communion and entering into full communion with the Catholic Church may also be placed under his jurisdiction by mutual consent.

VIII. § 1. The Ordinary, according to the norm of law, after having heard the opinion of the Diocesan Bishop of the place, may erect, with the consent of the Holy See, personal parishes for the faithful who belong to the Ordinariate.

§ 2. Pastors of the Ordinariate enjoy all the rights and are held to all the obligations established in the Code of Canon Law and, in cases established by the Complementary Norms, such rights and obligations are to be exercised in mutual pastoral assistance together with the pastors of the local Diocese where the personal parish of the Ordinariate has been established.

IX. Both the lay faithful as well as members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, originally part of the Anglican Communion, who wish to enter the Personal Ordinariate, must manifest this desire in writing.

X. § 1. The Ordinary is aided in his governance by a Governing Council with its own statutes approved by the Ordinary and confirmed by the Holy See.[17]

§ 2. The Governing Council, presided over by the Ordinary, is composed of at least six priests. It exercises the functions specified in the Code of Canon Law for the Presbyteral Council and the College of Consultors, as well as those areas specified in the Complementary Norms.

§ 3. The Ordinary is to establish a Finance Council according to the norms established by the Code of Canon Law which will exercise the duties specified therein.[18]

§ 4. In order to provide for the consultation of the faithful, a Pastoral Council is to be constituted in the Ordinariate.[19]

XI. Every five years the Ordinary is required to come to Rome for an ad limina Apostolorum visit and present to the Roman Pontiff, through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in consultation with the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, a report on the status of the Ordinariate.

XII. For judicial cases, the competent tribunal is that of the Diocese in which one of the parties is domiciled, unless the Ordinariate has constituted its own tribunal, in which case the tribunal of second instance is the one designated by the Ordinariate and approved by the Holy See.

XIII. The Decree establishing an Ordinariate will determine the location of the See and, if appropriate, the principal church.

We desire that our dispositions and norms be valid and effective now and in the future, notwithstanding, should it be necessary, the Apostolic Constitutions and ordinances issued by our predecessors, or any other prescriptions, even those requiring special mention or derogation.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter’s, on November 4, 2009, the Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo.

[1] Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 23; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter Communionis notio, 12; 13.

[2] Cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 4; Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 2.

[3] Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 1.

[4] Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 1.

[5] Cf. Jn 17:20-21; Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 2.

[6] Cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 13.

[7] Cf. ibid; Acts 2:42.

[8] Cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8; Letter Communionis notio, 4.

[9] Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8.

[10] Cf. CIC, can. 205; Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 13; 14; 21; 22; Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 2; 3; 4; 15; 20; Decree Christus Dominus, 4; Decree Ad gentes, 22.

[11] Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8.

[12] Cf. John Paul II, Ap. Const. Spirituali militium curae, 21 April 1986, I § 1.

[13] Cf. CIC, cann. 1026-1032.

[14] Cf. CIC, cann. 1040-1049.

[15] Cf. AAS 59 (1967) 674.

[16] Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Statement of 1 April 1981, in Enchiridion Vaticanum 7, 1213.

[17] Cf. CIC, cann. 495-502.

[18] Cf. CIC, cann. 492-494.

[19] Cf. CIC, can. 511.

7 thoughts on “Anglicanorum Coetibus”



    I'm not speaking here about the Advent call to prepare for the entry of God The Son into the world at His Nativity which we will celebrate at Christmas, or about what we as Christians are each called to be and do in our lives and witness, or about what we as men in Holy Orders are called to exemplify and to do, although those callings are clearly related to the calling I want to discuss. Most of you could do a much better job of discussing those topics than could I.


    As preface, I would call your attention to the entire content of the document (it is brief but dense with theological truth and insight) and in particular to several things Pope Benedict says in it :

    Introductory Paragraph 1 : "…the Holy Spirit has moved groups of Anglicans to petition repeatedly and insistently to be received into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately…Indeed, the successor of Peter…could not fail to make available the means necessary to bring this holy desire to realization." He is recognizing that our petition is sourced in the action of the Holy Spirit and that in fulfilling the mandate of his office and in justice he is compelled ("could not fail") to bring our "holy desire" to realization. Ponder that for a while if you will.

    Introductory Paragraph 4 : "This single Church of Christ…'subsists in the Catholic Church…Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside her visible confines. Since these are gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity.'" Note: In the context of this document he is saying that we Anglicans possess many elements of sanctification and truth, but he is saying something else – he is saying that these possessions of ours "properly [belong] to the [whole] Church of Christ"

    Paragraph III : "…the Ordinariate has the faculty to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments…according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition…so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared." Did you note that? : "…and as a treasure to be shared."

    As further preface, I would remind you that Pope Benedict repeatedly voices regret over the loss of the "sense of the sacred" and of the absence of the "beauty of holiness" resulting from declining standards in the celebration of the Mass. He also frequently decries the growing secularization and corresponding de-Christianization of Western culture. He has undertaken initiatives in response to both of these grave problems, each of which are attended by a host of other problems and evils. And, of course, a key in successfully fighting the battle for the wider culture is to begin winning the battle in the Church.

    It is my belief that the Holy Father sees us – small and weak though we are – as an ally of great potential in what will be the epic battles of our age: the battle to purify and revitalize the Church; and the battle to rescue society from its headlong plunge into the abyss and to commence the long hard slog of re-Christianizing it. What is to be the role of the Ordinariates – our role? First, I think it is to be a lamp on a lamp stand – or perhaps a city on a hill – serving as an exemplar of liturgical and musical excellence in the service of a devotional life which is at once both fervent and highly reverent. Second, for us as individuals to be personal exemplars of devotion to the beauty of holiness as we intermingle our lives with the lives of our new Latin Rite brothers and sisters, displaying for them the good fruits which that beauty and holiness produce in us; thereby being a leaven to the wider Church. Thirdly, if we are to have any hope of restoring the Church to its place as the beating heart of a renewed Christendom, we must help raise up a swelling cadre of well formed and faithful Christians, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to engage the culture at every level and at every opportunity to win it back for Christ.

    Maybe this is why what we have called "the Continuing Church" was called into existence. Perhaps the time has finally come to put aside our navel gazing – I'm sorry to be so blunt, but we have done a lot of that – and to finally set about the Lord's work in earnest. In our little ecclesiastical rowboat we can do but little. But think what a great service we may do our Lord if in Peter's great ship we can help trim the sails a bit and, perhaps, help steady the wheel. And will it not bring joy to the ship's company and raise their moral if we embellish the ship with rich decoration and lift our voice and theirs in harmonious and joyful song? And think how much safer – heart, mind, and soul – we will feel and be in that well found ship of which Christ Himself is the Captain and whose pilot is the Holy Father.

    Pope Benedict is not only reaching out to us in Christian Charity and from a sense of justice, he is sending us a clarion call to arms; a call to bring those treasures of ours to the aid of the Church and to the Crusade – yes, I use that politically incorrect word "Crusade" – to save what is left of Christendom and to help rebuild it. How can we not answer that call. How can we not unfurl the Anglican Banner and lead it to the front most rank. A great drama is beginning. Some of you may be called to play leading roles – certainly some of our successors will be so called. Some, like me growing old and low in energy and lacking in training or talent, must be satisfied to serve in the chorus. But all are called to some part, all have a duty. Dear Brothers and Friends, the curtain is about to go up and we must hurry to find our place.

    Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light,

    Lewis Berry +

  2. Father,

    You wrote: As further preface, I would remind you that Pope Benedict repeatedly voices regret over the loss of the "sense of the sacred" and of the absence of the "beauty of holiness" resulting from declining standards in the celebration of the Mass.

    To be fair, the standards in the celebration of the mass in the Catholic Church degenerated into a deep abyss long ago. I still remember, as a young child growing up in the early 1960's, making a sport of timing how quickly various priests could celebrate the Tridentine mass. Sunday masses under twenty minutes were commonplace, and Father Malone, whose Sunday masses usually lasted only sixteen minutes start to finish including distribution of communion to the whole congregation, was our parish champion. Of course, there was no point doing otherwise because the people in the pews, many of whom were praying rosaries while "Father" celebrated mass with the assistance of two altar servers in a language that the people in the pews did not understand.

    The real tragedy of the liturgical reform of the Roman Rite, implemented by Pope Paul VI in the late 1960's and early 1970's, was the absence of any sort of formation or instruction to prepare the clergy and the laity alike for the introduction of the current liturgical rites. In many parishes, the only discernable change in the manner of celebration of mass was that the people actually started making the responses assigned to them, but the race to get through mass as quickly as possible continued.

    To be fair, the manner of celebration of mass in many parishes has improved immensely over the past four decades. Sunday masses in many parishes now last a full hour, with singing and a real homily, though the quality of the homiletics is still very inconsistent. The reforms in our seminary programs in the late 1970's to form clergy who understand the new rites and the proper manner of celebration and the leadership of many houses of religious orders that have celebrated the mass in an examplary manner for several decades clearly are playing a major role in this transition. We still have a long way to go, but I find encouragement in the reality that the movement is substantially in the right direction.

    That said, I have no doubt that the addition of over half a million believers who demand quality in the celebration of the liturgical rites to our ranks will help to further the cause. As a lifelong Roman Catholic Christian, I look forward with the eager anticipation of Advent to the canonical erection of Anglican Ordinariates and to welcoming the distinct gifts that Anglican patrimony and over half a million devout believers will bring to our ranks!


  3. I have always admired the Latin Mass with its aura of sacredness. The liturgical reforms initiated by Paul VI following the closure of Vatican II was at best a disaster. The Church literally bled at all corners. Paul VI watched in anguish as the Church rotted first at the edges and inching inwards towards the core with each passing year.

    It took the courage and determination of Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI to reverse much of the damage. Much needs to be done as the Church has lost much of its treasure after many timultuous years of liturgical reforms that resulted in the Mass becoming more like a rock concert with the central meaning of the Eucharist reduced to nothing.

    I pray that the coming entry of the Ordinariate will serve to enrich what the Mother Church has lost. Thank you Benedict XVI for courageously passing the Apostolic Constitution against, I believe, many opposing forces who have no real interest in establshing union with our separated brothers and sisters who are outside of the Catholic umbra.

  4. I thank God for the Catholic Church and I welcome our Anglican brothers and Sisters.

    Sunday is a day to practice the faith. Don't rush it. Thank God for the Latin Mass. Learn it, pray it, reflect on it and live it. Learn all the customs, practice them and teach them to your families.

    This past Sunday, at St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church, in Pensacola, Florida, during the Latin Mass celebrated by Rev. Father Hector Perez, I sat in the very last pew to watch and to see our community of devout Catholics lived their faith.

    Men lead their wives, many who had their heads covered in respect, with vails or hats, to their places in God's church. Children of all ages, from teenagers to newbornes in their mother's arms, followed and took their places. Some famlies filled entire pews, a sign of strong Catholic families, who have let God decide how many children they are to be blessed with.

    As the Mass was celebrated with reverence and song I couldn't help but hear a beautiful new voice in the choir. So beautiful was this voice, I had to find out who she was. She sang in Latin and every word was a prayer. I could only think how blessed we all were. Even the children seemed to stop and listen to her beautiful voice. The voice turned out to be a young teenager. What a blessing to learn that out next generation was prepared to carry on our Latin traditions.

    The Mass lasted a little over two and a half hours with the beautiful singing and the reverent prayers of Father Perez. The time of Communion came and those in the state of grace approached the communion rail. Mothers carried their babies and fathers kept the other children in line. All knelt before receiving the Body of Christ on their tongues with respect and thanksgiving, from the hands of Father Perez. Babies looked up and watched as their mothers took Christ into their souls. The next generation was learning Catholic Traditions. I thanked God for this. Communion is not to be rushed. It wasn't rushed. Father Perez gave each an every one of us his attention and prayers as he placed the host on our tongues.

    The sounds of babies talking or crying made me realize that Father Perez has created something very special here at St. Stephen. Through his leadership he has brought to Pensacola a truely Roman Catholic Church. Those who enjoy the Traditional Latin Mass, some come from great distances, continue to support Father Perez and this little piece of heaven at St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church. I welcome you come join us. Bring your families.
    Yours in Christ,
    Bill Polakiewicz

  5. Dear R. Lewis Berry,

    I have just finished reading the document promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI. It sounds and feels like the author is so bound up in his
    loyalty to Canon Law that he hardly knows what to do! However, far-be-it-from-me to disparage the Holy Father! I hope that out of all of this, that the parishioners of St. Aidan's will end up spiritually, Church-/denominationally where they may wish to be!

    Most Cordially,
    Yours in Christ and Our Holy Father Benedict,

    John Rutt Obl. OSB

    "There are three grand essentials in Life: something to do; someone
    to love; and something to hope for." –Joseph Addisson

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