What is the Ordinariate?

What is the Ordinariate?

St John Vianney Catholic Church is part of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter. That is a very long sentence, what does it mean? Maybe more importantly, what does it mean to those whom are members of St john Vianney?

Pope Benedict VI penned the Apostolic Constitution ANGLICANORUM COETIBUS (hyperlinked). It was a response to many Anglican clergy and laity who wished to come home to the Catholic Church. This desire among Anglicans emerged from the Oxford movement, which St John Henry Newman founded with the help of other Anglicans. Newman, in trying to bring meaning back to a very tepid Anglican Church, found that the Catholic Church was the true Church founded by Christ. Newman left the Anglican Church to come home in 1845. Though he was gone, his movement lived on through the other Anglican clergy and laity who kept the Oxford movement alive.

Through the years, the Oxford movement produced many “catholic leaning” clergy and laity. This movement also produced the branch theory; positing the idea that the apostles, or clergy from the early patristic age, came to England and founded the Catholic Church of England. This combined with the Latin Church and the Orthodox Church formed three branches of the Catholic Church. This theory also produced many clergy who “thought” they were Catholic. (even though they were Anglican) Followers of the Oxford movement would pastor churches that looked very much like their Catholic counterparts. They practiced 7 sacraments and had daily mass. All that was needed was for the Pope to recognize their orders. This recognition never came, and for good reason. Ordination requires form and matter, as well as intention. Though there were some ordinations of Anglicans with Catholic bishops, supplying the matter, the correct form was not used, but maybe more importantly, the intention to ordain Catholic priests certainly was not there, as they were ordaining Anglicans. Anglican orders were/are not valid and thereby the Vatican could never accept their orders.

Time passed and the fruits of the Anglican Church proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Anglicanism was not Catholicism by any means. As this became apparent, many bishops began to approach the Pope for a means to come home. In 1982 St John Paul II introduced the “pastoral provision”, which allowed for married Anglican (or off shoot thereof) to come into the Catholic Church and to go through the discernment for Holy Orders. The only limitation to these Orders was that no married priest could ever become a bishop. This was well and good, and many Anglican priests came home through this process. But this process brought clergy into the Catholic Church in the jurisdiction that they resided within; to put simply, this process produced diocese priests in the ordinary rite, the rite most in America would identify as the Catholic Church. (such as St Josephs Cleburne).

Anglicans, however, wanted a form of worship that would more resemble the formality and hymnody that they knew in the Anglican Church; but the Vatican was not going to allow anything in the form of worship that was not of God. What was found, after much study, was that there were elements of Anglican worship that were of God; more commonly called, patrimony. Many of these parts of the Anglican worship were taken from early Catholic Masses, some were newer but were deemed patrimony. Pope Benedict, being a liturgical scholar, saw an opportunity to create a jurisdiction that would allow Anglicans to come home to the Catholic Church while retaining many of the styles of worship that they were used to from the Anglican Church.

Thus the Ordinariate was created in 2012. The mission, as stated on the Ordinariate website (hyperlink):

The primary mission of the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter is evangelization. 

The Ordinariate exists for those who are and who will be coming into full communion with the Catholic Church. Through the reverence and beauty of our worship, study of sacred Scripture and charity for those in need, we desire to share the joy of being Roman Catholic!

With respect and gratitude for the Anglican heritage that nourished us, we seek to build bridges with all our brothers and sisters who are drawn to the Church, so that we might build up the one Body of Christ. 

Our mission is particularly experienced in our celebration of liturgy, which features Anglican traditions of worship while conforming to Catholic doctrinal, sacramental and liturgical standards. Through Divine Worship: The Missal — the liturgy that unites the Ordinariates throughout the English-speaking world — we share our distinctive commitment to praising God in the eloquence of the Anglican liturgical patrimony and Prayer Book English.

In addition, the founding documents of the Personal Ordinariate make clear that it is intended to be an instrument of Catholic unity: an opportunity to model what the future reconciliation of separated Christian communities could be. We wish to fulfill the Holy Father’s vision for Christian unity, in which diverse expressions of one faith are joined together in the Church.

The Ordinariate stands as a full part of the Catholic Church, and answers directly to the Pope. Most of the clergy in the Ordinariate have faculties in the ordinary rite diocese within the which they reside. This means that they can say mass and perform other sacramental rites by invitation in the parishes of the ordinary rite. They are not limited, they are not partial clergy, nor are they still Anglican, all Ordinariate clergy are Catholic deacons and priests. If they are married, they must get a special exception from the pope to be ordained in the married state. They cannot remarry if their wives die.

I hope this explains the Ordinariate; all be it this is a very condensed version. I will try to write more on the subject to better fill in the gaps, please ask questions or request the gaps I need to fill.

God Bless

Fr Scott

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