Archbishop Collins on the Implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus

August 13, 2011

Archbishop Collins has released a DVD of the talks delivered at the March 2011 Anglicanorum Coetibus conference in Mississauga, Ontario.  His introduction to the DVD can be viewed on the Archdiocese’s website.  In his introduction he states:

Now, in July of 2011, we are coming to the close of the process of gathering information on roughly how many people in Canada who have been fully and accurately informed concerning Anglicanorum Coetibus and what it means, want to proceed according to the Apostolic Constitution to be received into the Catholic Church, and to form communities within the Church.  Once I have an idea of this, I will be able to advise the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and then the Congregation will decide on the precise way in which Anglicanorum Coetibus can be implemented in Canada.

The Archbishop describes the process to be followed by a group of Anglicans, and the relationship between the individual’s decision and the group’s corporate reception into the Catholic Church:

It is important to note that the corporate dimension refers to the fact that people do come to a decision to enter the Church as a group of Anglicans, that when they have been received into the Church they form a group again, an Anglican use parish within an Anglican use diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.  But each person must individually enter the Catholic Church and, after being fully informed, must individually decide to proceed.  Notice, for example, in Anglicanorum Coetibus that there is a requirement that each person write a letter asking to be received into the Church.  So the process is this:  A group of Anglicans decide they want to enter into the Catholic Church. Then a catechetical process adapted to their needs and based upon the Catechism of the Catholic Church is established, which would take several months.  In some way a Catholic priest needs to be involved in this process to clarify matters and to answer questions about the Catholic faith, and what it means to be part of the Roman Catholic Church, in communion with the Holy Father.

The Toronto group is at this stage, as we anticipate a catechetical process to begin in the Fall.  Archbishop Collins continues:

Then, those who wish to proceed, and who must be free to do so or not to do so, individually request it through a letter. They make the standard profession of faith which is used for reception into the Catholic Church, they go to Confession, they receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, and then receive the Holy Eucharist for the first time as members of the Roman Catholic Church.  Then they gather together with their fellow parishioners to form a parish which celebrates the Anglican patrimony within the Catholic Church according to Anglicanorum Coetibus and its Norms.

At the 11:50 mark on the video the Archbishop also addresses Anglican clergy who wish to be ordained as Catholic priests in the Ordinariate:

One thing to notice concerning the clergy of an Ordinariate as they are described in Anglicanorum Coetibus and its Norms is that although they will be pastorally responsible for what is often a very small Anglican Use community within the Ordinariate, they are also simply, fully Catholic priests of the Roman Catholic Church, and would likely be serving widely within the local diocese or in other forms of ministry. … the priests of the Ordinariate are fully Catholic priests and need to have a formation and a screening which is very much in line with that which is found in the preparation for the ordination of all Catholic priests.

[There are] certain procedures which are used in all Catholic seminaries, and are particularly important these days.  There are police checks, and … interviews, letters of reference and so on, and psychological testing.

[The time usually devoted to seminary formation], obviously, needs to be adapted in the case of people who have already been formed for the priesthood within the Anglican Church and that certainly will be done, making it a much briefer formation process, but the content of it needs to be respected.

I would urge any Anglican priest, who is considering Anglicanorum Coetibus, to study carefully the document issued by Pope John Paul called Pastores Dabo Vobis, which is the charter for all seminaries within the Catholic Church and which describes the whole process of formation: human formation, pastoral formation, spiritual formation and intellectual formation.

[E]ach person’s situation needs to be looked at, and the degree of supplementation that is needed must be decided.  Each case must be treated individually as the situation and the background of each applicant differs, but the norm is to be as close as possible to the standard for ordination to the priesthood within the Catholic Church.

For those who are applying for ordination according to the Apostolic Constitution and who have received already a formal, full Anglican preparation for ordination, in a seminary or theological college, it is most likely then, in their case, that after the screening is completed, what would be needed would be simply some supplementation and that might be done relatively quickly according to the norms of Pastores Dabo Vobis.  If, however, a person does not have such a background, which is really the background assumed in Anglicanorum Coetibus, but rather has had a much more informal formation for the priesthood which is very much less than what is described in Pastores Dabo Vobis, then there are very serious questions about what needs to be done.  It may well be that a person in that situation would need a very, very lengthy process of formation, or it may well be that sometimes we may need to look at the question of whether the person be ordained to the priesthood or perhaps to the diaconate or perhaps to serve the Lord in the lay state.  These are questions that need to be looked at in each individual case.

The Archbishop concludes by summarizing the next steps to be taken:

So, we look to the future.  First of all we need to determine, and we are close to that, what form the implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus will take in Canada.  Parish by parish the Ordinariate is formed, and we need to see how many groups of Anglicans, and how many people, want to proceed. Then the Holy See will decide what happens next.

While that is going on, individual groups, assisted by the mentor priests and perhaps by the local Catholic pastor, will begin their process of catechetical instruction preliminary to reception into the Catholic Church, and the formation of a parish.  At the same time the clergy applications need to be considered for those clerics who wish to be priests within the Catholic Church according to Anglicanorum Coetibus.

So, we celebrate this great reality of Anglicanorum Coetibus.  It is a blessing for Anglicans who wish to be received into the Catholic Church, while still retaining many of the Anglican cultural, pastoral, liturgical, and spiritual traditions which they love, and which are a source of spiritual enrichment for them. It is a blessing for the whole Catholic Church, already so diverse in traditions, and now enriched by the Anglican patrimony.

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us. Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.

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