The Ordinariates Undergo a Spring Transformation

May 14, 2019
Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer.

An update of the complementary norms to the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum cœtibus promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, was approved by Pope Francis, on April 9, 2019. This is the second modification of this document that provides for the reception of Anglicans who have made the choice to join the one Church.

The changes in the complementary norms ratified by the pontiff have been drawn up by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They concern the incardination of formerly Anglican clerics, the faithful, the formation of aspirants to the priesthood, and the liturgy.

The prefect of the Congregation, Luis Cardinal Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, speaks about these modifications as an “update become necessary after a certain trial period.” What is in it specifically? The first development concerns Article 4, paragraph 2, which deals with the ordinary of the canonical structure: he now has the capacity to incardinate regularized former Anglican clerics—sometimes married—who have been affiliated with a host diocese by default, before the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution.

This measure is supposed to allow priests who have joined the Catholic Church, more easily to live the Anglican traditions—especially liturgical—proper to the ordinariate.

A second modification affects Article 5. It broadens the possibilities for the ordinariate to draw converted faithful into it. It is a form of consolidation—measured—of the apostolate accomplished by this canonical structure.

The formation of seminarians is also undergoing an evolution. It will no longer take place in a vacuum, but “with other seminarians in a seminary or a theology school.” Here we see the will not to allow any “particularism” to take hold: the ordinariate is not an autonomous patriarchate in the legislator's thought, it remains a structure of the Roman Church.

Great novelty: the question of the liturgy appears in the document, in Article 15. From now on, the specific missal of the ordinariates is Divine Worship (DW). Some will see there the legitimization of an embryonic Anglican Rite. Indeed, it is an adaptation of the Book of Common Prayer of 1549, promulgated under the reign of Edward VI at the time when the Anglican schism was quite clearly formalized. It should be explained, however, that this Book of Common Prayer has gone through successive versions, of a more openly Protestant spirit, that the ordinariate has not chosen for itself.

Thus the offertory and the Roman canon remain traditional, as well as several parts from the Mass of Saint Pius V, which are preserved. On the other hand, the prayers are all said aloud and the readings are drawn more from the Old Testament—a type of rite halfway between the rite of St. Pius V and the Novus Ordo of 1969. A form of Pius-Paul Mass (Pius V - Paul VI)?

On November 14, 2009, FSSPX.News commented: “We hope that this dispensation granted to facilitate the return of Anglicans to the Catholic Church is not the opportunity awaited by the progressives who campaign for the ordination of married men and the marriage of already ordained priests. To this end, the precautions that will surround the study of each particular case should not be rhetorical, but quite real.”