Archbishop Nichols: ex-Anglicans should use RC churches

24 November 2010

by Ed Thornton

THE Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, confirmed on Friday that former Anglicans who join the Roman Catholic Ordinariate should expect to worship in RC churches.

At a press conference at the Catholics Bishops’ Conference secretariat in London, Archbishop Nichols said that the Roman Catholic Church was “not seeking to acquire property. . . The simpler route is the best, and the simpler route is that those becoming Catholics use our Catholic churches.”

Bishop Alan Hopes, who is on the Episcopal Commission implement­ing Anglicanorum Coetibus and is supervising the setting up of the Ordinariate in the UK, said that decisions about buildings could not be made until “we know where the groups are going to be”.

In an interview with Vatican Radio on Wednesday of last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “I think the challenge will come in working out shared use of churches, of how we as Anglicans ‘recommend’ people, and also, of course, there will be some parishes without priests, so we have a practical challenge here and there.”

Archbishop Nichols said that a fund had been created “so that the Ordinariate can get going”. It had been agreed that RC dioceses would contribute £250,000 to the fund.

A statement issued at the press conference outlined the timetable for the reception of Anglican clerics and laity into the Ordinariate. It confirmed that the five Anglican bishops who announced that they would resign from ministry in the Church of England at the end of the year (News, 12 November) would “enter into full communion with the Catholic Church early in January 2011”.

During the same month, “it is expected that the decree establishing the Ordinariate will be issued, and the name of the Ordinary to be appointed announced. Soon afterwards, those non-retired former Anglican bishops whose petitions to be ordained are accepted by the CDF [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] will be ordained to the Catholic diaconate and priesthood for service in the Ordin­ariate.”

The two retired bishops, assuming their requests to be ordained are also accepted, would be ordained to the diaconate and priesthood before Lent, the statement said. From the start of Lent, those groups of laity and clergy who have decided to leave the Church of England “will be enrolled as candidates for the Ordinariate”. They will be received into the Catholic Church “probably . . . on Holy Thursday or during the Easter vigil”.

Former Anglican priests who are approved will be ordained to the Catholic priesthood “around Pente­cost”, the statement said, having been ordained to the diaconate “at some point during Eastertide”.

Archbishop Nichols said that the creation of the Ordinariate was “not a process of rivalry or competition between our two Churches”. RC and Anglican bishops would continue to meet, “so that our mutual co-operation and deepening of com­mun­ion continues”. The next meeting would take place in April, he said.

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