November 10, 2009.
The Pope has signed the canon law that would create “Personal Ordinariates” which would pave the way for Anglicans to become Catholics.
The law would allow them to hold on to many of their own customs and traditions.
The document is an Apostolic Constitution called “Anglicanorum Coetibus”, which means “groups of Anglicans.”
The Vatican stresses it does not intend to attract Anglicans by the numbers, rather the new law is in response to bishops, priests and lay people in the Anglican Church who have expressed interest in joining the Catholic Church.
From now on, there could be one or more ordinariates for each Episcopal Conference. For example, there will be one or several in the Unites States, the same would go for Canada and France.
The ordinariates would be established by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s department that studies special situations, like the kind that will deal with married Anglican priests.
One of the most significant rules in the document includes the one which states the Pope will elect one out of three candidates proposed by the governing council to be Ordinary.
As for Anglican bishops who are married, they will only be welcomed as priests, but can be considered ordinaries. In other words, while they will govern their followers they will not govern priests or bishops.
In any case, the ordinary will have the same powers as the bishops of the Catholic dioceses. For example, he would be able to establish a religious order, take part in the Episcopal conference and establish a parish.
But as a rule the ordinary will get help to manage finances from a governing council made up of 6 priests.
As for lay people, only Anglicans who want to be part of the ordinary would be welcomed and would have to submit a request in writing.
The Vatican expects it will take months before the first Anglican Ordinariate is established.
And according to it’s statistics, at least 50 bishops have asked to join the Catholic Church along with their followers.