The Washington Times - November 9, 2009, 03:48PM

This morning, the other shoe dropped in terms of the Catholic Church putting out its welcome mat to disaffected Anglicans. The Vatican released the full text here of its Apostolic Constitution that spells out the details of the “personal ordinariates” by which Anglicans can evolve, as it were, into loyal followers of the pope.

There’s a lot to go through in this enormous document but essentially ‘ordinariates’ are mini-dioceses headed up by former Anglican bishops who technically have reverted to being priests in the Catholic Church but who function all except in name as bishops of these Anglo-Catholic dioceses. They’re allowed to keep their Anglican liturgies, I see, and it’s not clear as to what might be inserted in those liturgies - if anything - to make them more Catholic-compliant.


These former bishops will occupy a role similar to a retired Catholic bishop, the documents state, and will be able to take part in the annual business meeting of that country’s bishops’ conference. And they will be allowed in as married men.

Some additional “norms” stipulate how the needs of these bishops and convert-clergy (most of which will be married) will be provided for (i.e., working a day job) and if I read Article 9 correctly, these married priests can assist at regular Catholic parishes. Which seems to be a way of bringing married priests into the Catholic Church somewhat by the back door. Of course the regular (and celibate) Catholic priests are allowed to help pastor these Anglican congregations as well.

Early reactions show that Anglicans who are planning to cross the Tiber are quite pleased with the document. John Broadhurst, bishop of Fulham and head of Forward in Faith UK, calls it “extremely impressive” here.

- Julia Duin, religion editor