Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington announced November 15 that the new ordinariate for former Anglicans in the United States will be established January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
At the same time he confirmed that Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth, Texas, will succeed Archbishop John Myers of Newark as Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision, through which married Anglican priests become diocesan priests in the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Wuerl, who is the delegate for the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the head of an ad hoc committee of U.S. bishops to lead efforts in the United States to receive Anglican groups into the Catholic Church, made the announcement during the fall plenary meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore. Bishop Vann is a member of the ad hoc committee.
The ordinariate stems from the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus issued by Pope Benedict XVI in November 2009 that authorized the creation of ‘ordinariates,’ geographic regions similar to dioceses but typically national in scope. Parishes in these ordinariates are to be Catholic yet retain elements of the Anglican heritage and liturgical practices. They are to be led by an ‘ordinary,’ who will have a role similar to a bishop, but who may be either a bishop or a priest. The ordinary for the United States will be named on January 1.
Bishop Vann’s appointment as Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision was made by the Vatican. He succeeds Archbishop Myers in this position. Among the duties of the Ecclesiastical Delegate is to ensure the former Anglican priests in formation receive theological, spiritual and pastoral preparation for ministry in the Catholic Church.
The Pastoral Provision is under the jurisdiction of the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. While Bishop Vann’s work as Ecclesiastical Delegate and the ordinariate are separate, close communication and cooperation will exist between the Pastoral Provision office and the ordinariate.
The Ecclesiastical Delegate administers the process by which married, former Anglican ministers can become priests sponsored by a diocesan bishop. The process includes the gathering of information by the candidate and his sponsoring bishop concerning his suitability for ordination. This information is then submitted to the Holy See through the Ecclesiastical Delegate. To this is added the academic assessment and certification of each candidate by a body of theologians established by the Ecclesiastical Delegate.
The Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision was created by the Holy See in 1980 in response to requests from Episcopal priests and laity who were seeking full Communion with the Catholic Church. Since creating the Pastoral Provision, more than 100 men have been ordained as priests, three personal parishes have been established and use of the Book of Divine Worship, a liturgical text authorized by the Vatican that incorporates Anglican prayers and material, has been authorized.