Pope Francis changes rules for who can join Anglican Ordinariates

This is really interesting.

Do you remember some reports that, not long ago, some people were claiming that Pope Francis, still in Argentina, pooh-pooed any need for an Anglican Ordinariate.  Remember that?  BBC HERE.

Read what follows and ask yourself if this is the move of someone who thinks that there is no need for the Ordinariate.

Fron CNA:

Vatican City, Jul 12, 2013 / 02:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Demonstrating the role of Anglican Ordinariates in the new evangelization, baptized Catholics can now join the groups set up for Anglican converts, according to a change in rules made by Pope Francis.  [Whoa!]

Those who were baptized Catholic but have not received Confirmation and First Communion are now allowed to join the ordinariates. Previously, baptized Catholics were not eligible to join the groups unless they had family who were ex-Anglicans. [That is a fairly narrow sub set, but it is still a big move.  But wait!  There’s more!]

This confirms the place of the Personal Ordinariates within the mission of the wider Catholic Church, not simply as a jurisdiction for those from the Anglican tradition, but as a contributor to the urgent work of the New Evangelisation,” the United Kingdom’s ordinariate announced July 9.  [Pope Francis has mentioned the New Evangelization here and there, but this time it is “urgent”.]

Taking its cue from the late John Paul II, [? Didn’t Benedict XVI set up the new dicastery?] the new evangelization is the common term for bringing the Gospel to formerly Christian nations, and can be seen in the new outreach to people who were baptized as Catholics but who never completed the process of Christian initiation.

Benedict XVI allowed for the groups to be set up with his 2009 apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus,” which provided for ordinariates, or Anglican communities wishing to enter into the Catholic Church.

His “complementary norms” governing the groups said that “those baptized previously as Catholics outside the Ordinariate are not ordinarily eligible for membership, unless they are members of a family belonging to the Ordinariate.” [Okay.. hang on… “ordinarily”.  So, there was a possibility even before Francis did what he did.  But Francis made it clearer.  Again, we see Francis is not departing from what Benedict did, he is confirming and expanding.]

On May 31, Pope Francis modified the complementary norms, adding a section which says that “a person who has been baptized in the Catholic Church but who has not completed the Sacraments of Initiation, and subsequently returns to the faith and practice of the Church as a result of the evangelizing mission of the Ordinariate, [Okay.  More information is coming out.] may be admitted to membership in the Ordinariate and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation or the Sacrament of the Eucharist or both.”

It was emphasized that Catholics must meet the objective criterion – lacking at least one of the sacraments of initiation – to join the groups for former Anglicans, and they may not join “for purely subjective motives or personal preference,” according to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  [Are you sick to DEATH of Fr. Lovebeads at Our Lady Queen of Hugs?  Would you rather go to Mass at the nearby Anglican Ordinariate church? YES.  You can go to that church, receive Communion, fulfill your obligation, etc.  They are CATHOLICS. Similarly, you can go to a Ukrainian Catholic Church, a Maronite Catholic Church…]

In addition to the U.K.’s Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, there are also ordinariates in North America and Australia.

“I certainly welcome this development, which further establishes our place in the work of the new evangelization,” said Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, ordinary of the Chair of Saint Peter, in North America.

“Particularly in North America, with large percentages of ‘unchurched’ peoples, [Yes, ladies and gents, this is mission territory again.] it is inevitable that we will encounter those who have no formal ecclesial relationships but who are seekers of truth,” he added in his statement.

“The Great Commission thus becomes more and more the heart of our work.”

The article is also interesting because tidbits of important information dribble out during the course of the article. Gah!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Lepidus says:

    OK, I’m confused. I agree with your comment regarding Fr. Lovebeads (love that name, by the way). But what does that all mean a the end of the day? You can go to any Catholic parish (Eastern, Anglican Ordinate, whatever), but you just can’t “belong” to it? But previous posts suggest that parish membership has no canonical status anyway. I guess I’m just having trouble figuring out why the limitation are there anyway? What is the Holy Father trying to accomplish? Besides telling the Anglican Ordinate people to get out there and evangelize – is it just to say don’t think you’re doing anything by evangelizing other practicing Catholics?

  2. Rellis says:

    Good for the Ordinariate. The New Evangelization should be at the heart of their work.

    Other groups of Catholics attached to a particular patrimony (read: angry Ecclesia Dei era traddies) might re-orient themselves similarly. We’d probably get a lot more of what we all want if they did so.

  3. Tony McGough says:

    Good for the Pope. The ordinariate is very good news – it brings to the church a goodly crowd of people who REALLY want to be catholics – water on parched ground here in Britain.

    Apparently they have a service of Evensong and Benediction – I would love to attend. They bring with them very fine chants from the Anglican tradition which are devotional and uplifting.

    (Compare the music of eg a Royal Wedding vs a Solemn Mass from Rome, and the Anglicans win hands down.) Even a bog standard Evensong from any Anglican cathedral is an aid to prayer.

  4. MWindsor says:

    I went to an Anglican church in my youth, but received Confirmation already. I don’t guess I can go back.

    But like a cop, they’re never around when you need one. The nearest solid parishes are all over an hour away, and we just don’t have the transportation to get there.

  5. Magpie says:

    So what’s the difference between membership and just attending for Mass? Seems a bit like a golf club for the elites. So if Mass is abusive at the local Latin parish and Fr Heresy is unbearable, I can’t become a member of the local ordinariate?

  6. Michael_Thoma says:

    MWindsor – you can go back since you went to an Anglican Church in your youth. I can as well, although I am practicing and happy as a Syro-Malankara Catholic, my father was Anglican (Church of South India) and I was raised in that and my mother’s denominations.

    The new widening of who can join allows the Ordinariate to make mission in Europe and Latin America, and beyond – to evangelize uncatechized Catholics as well as other Christians and non-Christians.

  7. GregH says:

    So because my wife who grew up Anglican going to the Falls Church Anglican and was received into the Catholic Church…our family could start going to Mass in the Anglican Ordinariate?

  8. jeremyt says:

    I’m with Lepidus here too.
    My wife and I prefer to go to the TLM offered in our area, but when we can’t (laziness sometimes) we go to the Anglican Use parish that’s conveniently located 6 minutes from our home. It is the most reverent NO parish we’ve seen, ad orientem, high/low mass distinction, no alter girls, great homilies/confessions, etc. etc. So naturally, when we don’t/can’t make it out to the next diocese over in the A.M. to the TLM parish or to their ‘mission’ mass offered in a church in our parish (in the evening), we go to the Anglican Use parish. We’re about to have our first child, and are trying to figure out where we should be parishioners. We live outside of the diocese of the TLM parish, there’s a Latin Mass Community in our parish (with mass celebrated by the wonderful priests from the adjacent diocese), and there’s a beautiful Anglican Use Catholic parish just down the road from where we live. I was leaning towards being a parishioner at the Anglican Use parish… is that allowed/ok? (Thanks, and sorry for the rambling, its ‘early’.)

  9. anilwang says:

    Lepidus says: “But previous posts suggest that parish membership has no canonical status anyway. ”

    Not quite correct from my understanding. You are automatically a member of the parish in your designated territory of your designated rite. You can register anywhere, but you aren’t a member (although I’m sure many parishes will give you the privileges associated with a member and some territorial parishes might demand registration so that can better care for you).

    The key thing is, each rite has a different designated territory, So Eastern Catholics are taken care of by the relevant Eastern Catholic parish in their territory, and Anglican Ordinariate Catholics (what are they called? Anglican Catholics?) are taken care of by the Anglican Ordinariate parish in their territory.

    Pope Benedict XVI tried to create an Ordinariate/Personal Prelature. I imagine, if such a thing were eventually created (if not for the SSPX, for the FSSP), the people who desire TLM could be cared for by their territorial TLM parish.

  10. dominic1955 says:

    Any Catholic can go to any legitimately Catholic parish of any rite or usage to fulfill their Sunday obligation as well as for general spiritual good. The issue is, one cannot switch rites easily, if at all. One could go exclusively to their local Byzantine Rite parish as a Latin Rite Catholic, but to formally swtich to being Byzantine Rite is tough (and vice versa). This will only cause issues when it comes to marriage, baptism, and other things like that.

    BTW, here in Omaha, we are happy to have the newest Ordinariate parish in our midst, St. Barnabas!

  11. Athelstan says:

    Hello Fr. Z,

    As an Ordinariate member, I would like to add my small mite:

    Okay.. hang on… “ordinarily”. So, there was a possibility even before Francis did what he did.

    Yes, indeed: There was a feeling among some that the old norms could be interpreted that flexibly in some cases. But the uncertainty limited that impulse. Now we have a clearer mandate to expand our scope. And we need that, because only by evangelizing, *really* evangelizing, will the Ordinariates survive past the first generation or two. There’s not enough of a pipeline of disaffected Rome-leaning Anglicans left out there to keep us alive. Most of our parishes are very small as it is. We need to grow, and we know it. And there are lots of fallen away baptized Catholics who need to be reached.

    [Are you sick to DEATH of Fr. Lovebeads at Our Lady Queen of Hugs? Would you rather go to Mass at the nearby Anglican Ordinariate church? YES. You can go to that church, receive Communion, fulfill your obligation, etc. They are CATHOLICS.]

    Absolutely! All this new item is about is formal membership in the Ordinariate. There’s nothing to prevent any Catholic from attending Mass or having Confession at an Ordinariate parish! And everyone is welcome to check us out, if you have the chance. There are nearly three dozen Ordinariate communities in North America, and a new one just joined in Omaha last week.

  12. jeff says:

    The thing is if there are 20 ordinariate memberin an area where there is no ordinariate presence then you have a good case to get an Anglican Use mass in your area, even by a regular Latin Rite priest sometimes.

    Also, Ordinariate priests may be married. Married laymen may present themselves as candidates for seminary in the Ordinariate. Rome has done well to restrict membership in order to prevent married “spirit of Vatican II” crazies from stacking the priesthood via the ordinariate.

  13. Father Zuhlsdorf,

    With regard to the following:

    Taking its cue from the late John Paul II, [? Didn’t Benedict XVI set up the new dicastery?]

    Is it likely that the CNA article might be linking this back to the Pastoral Provision established by John Paul II in 1980?

    As someone who spent almost 4 decades as an Anglican in the U.S. before being received into the Church in 2010, it struck me at the time Benedict XVI established the Ordinariate that the latter could be viewed as a broadening of what JP II had initiated in 1980, and also as one example of a New Evangelization. Those events do seem of mutually consistent and coherent.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  14. William Tighe says:

    Much heavy weather has been made in comments on this matter, here and elsewhere, about the meaning of “membership.” All Catholics (meaning, those in communion with the Pope of Rome) may attend the Catholic parish of their choice (I believe that the obligation for Latin Catholics to be a member of the parish in the geographical bounds of which they are domiciled, or else of the ethnic parish [e.g., Italian, Polish, etc.] in which they are inscribed has been abolished in the USA), and go to confession and receive communion there. The problem arises when it is a matter of marrying or baptizing one’s children. Thus, two Latin Catholics (e.g.) who attend a Ukrainian Catholic parish and wish to be married there have to receive canonical permission from the pastor(s) of the Latin Catholic parish(es) of which they are, or canonically “should” be, members. So, technically, these people cannot be “members” of the Ukrainian Catholic parish which they attend unless they seek and receive a formal “transfer of rite” from the Latin Catholic sui juris church to the Ukrainian Catholic sui juris church. (Such a transfer, for laymen, requires merely the support of the parish priest, testified in writing, of the parish in which one wishes to become a member, and the approval of the local Latin Catholic bishop/ordinary and that of the bishop/ordinary of the sui juris church of which the parish of which one desires to become a member is part.)

    The Anglican Ordinariates are not sui juris churches, but “jurisdictions” within the Latin Catholic Church. “Ordinary” Roman Catholics can attend Ordinariate parishes as frequently or regularly as they wish, but formerly they could not become “members,” unless they had some some “Anglican connection.” (Before there were and Ordinariates, there were, in the USA, some seven “Anglican Use” Roman Catholic parishes. In some dioceses, at least, the local bishop[s] seemingly allowed anyone who wished to join such parishes and become members, and converts to Catholicism coming from non-Anglican backgrounds received in such “Anglican Use” parishes have been allowed to join as well. Thus, the largest Anglican Use parish in terms of membership in the USA, which for reasons I will not discuss here has decided to remain an “Anglican Use” parish within its Latin Catholic archdiocese and not seek to enter the Ordinariate, has some 1400 registered members [as many as that of all the seven other pre-Ordinariate “Anglican Use” parishes combined]. A survey of the membership undertaken last year demonstrated that 67% of those members had the requisite “Anglican connection” according to the canonical requirements then in force [and which Pope Francis has now “liberalized”]). These “non-members” may have the same “complications” with regard to baptism and marriage that Latin Catholics attending parishes of another sui juris Catholic parish can encounter, but I am not sure of this. I have been informed that such “attending non-members” are not eligible (e.g.) to be members of the parish council.

    Jeff wrote:

    “Also, Ordinariate priests may be married. Married laymen may present themselves as candidates for seminary in the Ordinariate.”

    Not exactly. Celibacy remains the norm for Ordinariate priests. Convert married Anglican clergymen who are suitable in their character and circumstances for ordination, and who seek ordination, require papal approval for ordination, and will normally obtain it. Married laymen, laymen members of an Ordinariate, will normally mot be eligible for ordination (unless, perhaps, they were Anglican ordination candidates at the time of their becoming Catholic). Exceptions may be made in individual cases (“special circumstances” and all that), but I have not heard of any, and strongly doubt that there will be many.

  15. My understanding of the practice of Anglican Use parishes in the U.S.–not being a member of one myself–is that any ordinary Latin Rite Catholic has the right to attend Mass in an AU parish, to register in and financially support it, to send his children to its parish school …. In short, to function as a member of the AU parish without being an actual member of the Anglican Ordinariate.

    So I wonder whether these legalities about Ordinariate membership aren’t intended mainly for specific canonical and clerical situations. For instance, precluding a married Catholic from claiming a right to ordination as a self-determined member of an Anglican Ordinariate. But having little everyday application to ordinary lay Catholics.

  16. jeff says:

    O and celibate cradle catholics may not present themselves as candidates for seminary with the ordinariate either

  17. I see now that Mr. Tighe has just provided an authoritative and knowledgeable answer to the questions I suggested.

  18. Michael_Thoma says:

    For those in the know – any chance the Chicago area will be getting an AU or Ordinariate parish? The closest to here is in Indianapolis, a good 4hr drive out. The Episcopalians in Chicago, for the most part, are ultra-liberal. Because of my roots in the tradition, I’d like to help such an endeavor both financially and with my time and efforts. I personally know of at least one traditional Anglican clergyman who is considering becoming Catholic along with some of his parish.

  19. William Tighe says:

    Sometimes the “special circumstances” which I mentioned in my previous comment are highly “occult.” Thus, individuals who as men of mature years deliberately leave the Catholic Church to become Anglicans (or any other sort of Protestants) and who were ordained Anglican clergymen, are never eligible for ordination in the Catholic Church, and certainly not for ordination as married men. And yet I know of two cases, one in England and the other in the United States, in which an individual left the Catholic Church (in one case as a young adult layman, in the other as a Catholic seminarian on the verge or ordination), married, received Anglican ordination, and subsequently (in one case a matter of some decades later, in the other of some years) returning to the Catholic Church and receiving the requisite dispensations, were ordained in the Catholic Church for service in parishes of their respective ordinariates.

  20. mamajen says:

    Once again Pope Francis’ actions contradict his alleged words. It wasn’t long ago that people were accusing him of saying the ordinariates weren’t necessary. Will they ever learn?

    This is very good news. I hope that someday my Anglican in-laws might consider joining.

  21. Hilleyb says:

    I think I get it. To “join the Ordinariate,” then, would be to formally place oneself under the canonical jurisdiction of that Ordinary rather than the territorial bishop, in regards to baptisms, marriages, dispensations and the like. There will be conflicts, but this is how it has always been with differing Catholic rites.

  22. Pingback: Francis makes key amendment giving Ordinariates important role in new evangelisation | St. Joseph of Arimathea Anglican Use Society

  23. Geoffrey says:

    “Didn’t Benedict XVI set up the new dicastery?”

    Benedict XVI institutionalized the New Evangelization, but it was Blessed John Paul II who coined the term.

  24. Tradster says:

    “Fr. Lovebeads at Our Lady Queen of Hugs”. Love that!

  25. Fr AJ says:

    I’m guessing that priesthood and celibacy played a role here. This clearly stops any fully initiated Latin Rite married man from joining the Ordinariate and then becoming a priest.

  26. eulogos says:

    Michael_Thoma, If that Anglican priest and a significant part of his parish “popes” then they can start an Ordinariate parish. As soon as he feels sure, if not before, he ought to contact Msgr Steenson. Perhaps he has done so already? I am sure your financial support would be very greatly appreciated!
    Susan Peterson

  27. Simon_GNR says:

    I’m getting a bit confused here: it seems to me that I, as an ex-Anglican who was received into the Catholic Church (and so underwent Catholic confirmation) 20-odd years ago, can’t become a member of the Ordinariate, having received complete initiation into the Catholic Church. Even if I chose only to go to Ordinariate Masses I would still be under the canonical jurisdiction of the Catholic bishop in whose diocese I live. He would be my Ordinary whether or not I ever went to Mass in any of the churches of his diocese. Is this correct? There seem to be conflicting views in previous comments as to what the position is. I certainly have a connection with Anglicanism having been a practising one for 24 years, baptised and confirmed in the CofE, but these words on the Ordinariate’s website seem quite clear: “enrolment into a Personal Ordinariate remains linked to an objective criterion of incomplete initiation (i.e. baptism, eucharist, or confirmation are lacking)”. There is nothing lacking in the completeness of my initiation into the “mainstream” Catholic Church, so I can’t become a *member* of the Ordinariate, under the jurisdiction of the Ordinary thereof. (?) I’d be glad if anyone could give me a definitive answer on this point.

  28. JohnB says:

    I think it’s important to keep in mind actual numbers here. The last time I checked the Ordinariate web site, there were 27 “communities” covering the US and Canada. The US Ordinariate has claimed 1600 members in its press releases. Blogs observing the Ordinariates have noted that they have about reached their expected sizes, at least without some changes in who may become a member. We should also recognize that only about 6 or 8 of the US Ordinariate “communities” have their own buildings; the rest are effectively missions with small numbers meeting mainly in Roman parishes at the times that might otherwise go to Korean or Spanish masses. So even among commenters who might now find an interest in an Anglican Ordinariate parish, in the US it’s important to keep in mind that there are no such parishes in most major metropolitan areas (although Baltimore appears to be very well supplied indeed). I was optimistic about the Ordinariate in my own area, but there were many obstacles, and I discovered that RCIA at a Roman parish was a far better option, and it continues to be the only viable option for the vast majority of Episcopalians or “continuing Anglicans” who might wish to consider becoming Catholic. The idea that if you don’t like a Roman parish in your area but might find an Ordinariate one is, unfortunately, a chimera and likely to continue as such for the foreseeable future.

  29. dhgyapong says:


    If you have any Anglican connection in your background or your family, i.e. you married an Anglican or former Anglican, you are eligible for Ordinariate membership even if you have already been received into the Catholic Church.


  30. Michael_Thoma says:

    Simon, this is straight from the Ordinariate website:

    If you are an individual or family that has already joined the Catholic Church but you are of an Anglican background, please send us a letter stating your intent to join signed by you/and your family (please have your name(s) printed as well so we can legibly read your names). We will then send you a letter of acceptance, and assign you to the care of the closest Ordinariate community within a reasonable distance as soon as we are able. If the community is of such a distance that it is not practical to worship with them, we ask that you worship as you can with the community, but that you continue to use your local parish as your primary place of worship.

    We know that it is likely that there will be individuals assigned to the care of groups that could be more than a hundred miles away. We suggest that communities keep in touch by online communication such as parish bulletins, being notified of community events, meeting in various places and having morning/evening prayer, etc. As communities develop, we hope that we will be able to have communities in closer proximity to our members. After we are more organized, we may be able to find ways for members who are geographically close to each other to be in touch. Until we have more numerous formal groups, communities and parishes, this is our best solution for meeting the needs individual members. If you move, let us know your new address.

  31. Ben Kenobi says:

    “Are you sick to DEATH of Fr. Lovebeads at Our Lady Queen of Hugs?”

    @Father Z:

    It does the heart good to know in troubling times there are still men like yourself. :)

  32. Ben Kenobi says:

    @ Simon:

    I believe you’ve understood it correctly. You’re in the same boat as me. Practicing Anglican for nearly 20 years and converted to Catholicism 8 years ago. I am very glad that my brothers and sisters who have come over have the option of the Ordinariate, but I am also glad I didn’t hesitate!

  33. jeff says:

    Ben, both you and Simon may join the ordinariate, coming from Anglican backgrounds, if you wish. I converted 10 ago but joined the ordinariate just this year

  34. Ben Kenobi says:


    Thanks for the correction. How do you find it? I am quite happy with the Latin rite. Did you find it difficult switching rites? I’m told that it can make marrying someone more difficult and that’s not really an impediment that I would like to add to the process…

  35. Pingback: Pope Francis: Reformer or Revolutionary - BigPulpit.com

  36. RoyceReed says:

    I actually did quite a bit of research into this a little over a month ago. I’m a fully initiated Latin, and my fiancée is a baptized Presbyterian. She attended an Episcopal church throughout college. She now attends Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston and have decided to become Catholic through that parish, the principal church of the Ordinariate in the USA. The thing we’re wondering is, based on the old and now revised norms, will she as a baptized Presbyterian be admitted to full membership in the Ordinariate? And if we want to get married there, since I’m a Latin and she’s not coming from an “official” Anglican background (she was never received into the Episcopal church), will we be allowed to marry and have our children baptized there? It seems to me that these “norms” are just that, not hard and fast rules. Perhaps this is why Fr. Phillips at Atonement in San Antonio is not joining the Ordinariate? His parish allows non-Anglicans to fully convert to Rome through their parish. This seems to be more in line with the so-called New Evangelization. As Fr. Phillips pointed out to me, Anglicanism is imploding, and there soon won’t be any former Anglicans seeking to cross the Tiber.

  37. sirlouis says:


    The Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter is not a different rite, although it has a distinctive ritual. It is a personal jurisdiction within the “Latin rite,” so any “inter-rite” difficulties that may arise in, for example, a Latin rite person marrying someone in the Maronite rite simply do not arise if a member of the Ordinariate marries a person in the Latin rite. There would be a question whether to solemnize the marriage in the jurisdiction of the Ordinariate, but that is a matter more of choice than of difficulty, assuming one party is indeed a member of the Ordinariate.

  38. Simon_GNR says:

    Jeff; Michael_Thoma:

    Thanks for your replies – they clarify the position very well. The direct quote from the Ordinariate website was very informative.

    At present I’m quite happy in my Novus Ordo parish in my geographical diocese and I have no criticisms of any significance of either the parish priest or the local bishop. But if, local to me, there were regular ordinariate Masses, and other Anglican-tradition worship and services, such as Mattins and Evensong based on the Book of Common Prayer and using the BCP Coverdale translation of the psalms I would be keen to be involved.

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