Australia's Anglican Ordinariate on track

Australia's Anglican Ordinariate on track

Bishop Peter Elliott

The following are extracts from Bishop Peter J. Elliott's talk during an Ordinariate Information Day at the Basilica of Our Lady of Victories, Camberwell, in the Melbourne Archdiocese on 11 June 2011. Bishop Elliott, who is a Melbourne auxiliary bishop, is the delegate of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a liaison to the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference for the Personal Ordinariate.

The establishment of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham within the Catholic Church in England has been accompanied by warm welcomes. The same pattern will soon unfold in the United States, Canada and Australia. The generous offer of Pope Benedict XVI is taking concrete visible form.

The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus of 4 November 2009 was Pope Benedict XVI responding pastorally to requests for help from traditional Anglicans, requests to Rome that began over twenty years ago. The Apostolic Constitution establishes "a Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans who wish to enter full communion with the Catholic Church".

As the Apostolic Constitution defines it: "The Ordinariate is composed of the 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", to which is added significantly, "or those who receive the Sacraments of Initiation within the jurisdiction of the Ordinariate."

Thus the future of what amounts to a national diocese for specific people is not restricted only to former Anglicans. Any Catholic is free to worship and receive the sacraments in Ordinariate parishes.

Anglicans become members of the Catholic Church in and through the Ordinariate by applying in writing, and application forms will be issued later this year. Then they make a Profession of Faith and receive the Sacraments of Christian Initiation (in practice Confirmation and the Eucharist). Then they are to be registered as members. The rule of faith for the Ordinariate is the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

As we can see in England, Anglicans are entering full communion within a distinctive ecclesial community, maintaining the "Anglican Patrimony", their own traditions and customs, including liturgical privileges. At the same time, these Personal Ordinariates will be part of the Roman Rite.

In Australia the process of forming the Ordinariate is moving steadily on three levels. At the May meeting of the Catholic Bishops of Australia, an Ad Hoc Commission for the Australian Personal Ordinariate was established at my request to represent the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference (ACBC). The Commission is supervising the whole process, working with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is chaired by Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, and the other members are Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett of Lismore, Bishop Brian Finnegan, Apostolic Administrator of Toowoomba, and myself. We are assisted by Fr Brian Lucas, Secretary of the ACBC.

At the second national level, the Australian Ordinariate Implementation Committee brings together the main 'players', that is members of the Anglican Church of Australia and the bishops, clergy and laity of the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia (Traditional Anglican Communion.

Formation courses

Courses of formation in the Faith for the lay faithful are under way in the groups around Australia that are seeking to enter the Ordinariate. Formation is focused on an intense study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

While they come under the authority of their own bishop, the clergy of the Ordinariate will be part of the brotherhood of priests and deacons that is found in every Catholic diocese, usually described as the presbyterium. They will minister primarily within the Ordinariate, while working alongside other priests of the Roman Rite in the local diocese.

People are asking about progress towards a distinctive Ordinariate liturgy, an integral part of the offer of Pope Benedict XVI. The Roman Rite in its two forms is always there for the Ordinariate, but liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition are being prepared, subject to the approbation of the Holy See. The liturgy of the Anglican Use parishes in the United States is one model for developing a "use" for the Ordinariates.

Drawing on the Anglican patrimony and Catholic traditions, an Ordinariate liturgy is being prepared by an international commission in which I have played a small part. The introduction of this usage happily coincides with the introduction this year of the richer and more accurate English translation of the post-conciliar Roman Missal which is much closer to Anglican liturgical language.

Here we also see what the Ordinariate brings to the wider Church. The liturgical use in the Ordinariates will contribute to the deeper and more spiritual renewal of liturgy that has quietly emerged in recent years, the fruit of the Eucharistic project of Blessed John Paul II and the liturgical wisdom of Pope Benedict XVI.

The Ordinariates are taking shape as the whole Church prepares to celebrate in 2012 the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. Those being reconciled in an Ordinariate are beneficiaries of the Council's ecumenical vision, commitment and mandate while the Catechism of the Catholic Church embodies the teachings of this Ecumenical Council. In different ways we all share the heritage of the Council and its richer understanding of the Church.

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