Happy 10th Anniversary of Anglicanorum coetibus!


I shot this video of Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to New York City in 2008, about a year and a half before he published historic document that made it possible for so many of us to become Catholic.   I was looking for some good pictures of him I might have on file and found this video I was able to record from the balcony of a chapel where he greeted handicapped children and their parents.

Thank you, Pope-emeritus Benedict!

Today is the day ten years ago — November 4th, 2009 — that Pope Benedict published the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, “Providing for Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church.”

It’s hard to believe it’s already ten years and so much has happened since.  It really has been a dream come true for us former Anglicans.  We are in the full communion of the Catholic Church, yet, as the document says, we were able to keep the spiritual treasures of our tradition and liturgy subject to approval by the Holy See.  Here’s the pertinent paragraph from the document.

III. Without excluding liturgical celebrations according to the Roman Rite, the Ordinariate has the faculty to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical celebrations according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See, so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.

The Catholic Church has been generous with us.  That generosity began with St. Pope John Paul II and the Pastoral Provision that made a first effort at preserving Anglican tradition and common identity within the Catholic Church.  Pope Benedict XVI followed up with Anglicanorum coetibus and the establishment of three personal ordinariates—personal particular churches in a historic gesture of “realized ecumenism.”

DSC08433In a must-read interview by Peter Jesserer Smith of the National Catholic Register, Bishop Steven Lopes highlights the support Pope Francis has given to the ordinariates.



I have found the Holy Father and the Holy See to be very generous with us when it comes to these things. The concession of the daily indulgence for the entire year, I thought was particularly gracious.

What other kinds of confirmations have you had from the Holy See about the direction and mission of the Ordinariate. Why does the Holy Father view its mission as so important for the Church today?

Well, I think the Holy Father very rightly, and this begins in my very first conversation with Pope Francis. I mean, obviously I was very involved with Pope Benedict in the work that led to Anglicanorum coetibus, so I’m very familiar with that. But in the very first conversation with Pope Francis, after he named me bishop, just a few days actually before it was publicly announced, when he and I were speaking, he directly mentioned the missionary aspect of the Ordinariate, that the Ordinariate if done well, can be a sign of not only ecclesiastical unity and communion, but the means of it. It’s a way of welcoming people into full communion in a new way. Benedict opened a new way of entering full communion where all of those traditions, all of that history, all of that theology, that nurtured you to the point of seeking full communion, you don’t have to leave at the door of the Catholic Church when you enter in, but you can bring these very same liturgical, pastoral, theological traditions with you in an enriching way. Yes, he doesn’t stop there. I mean, he also understood this as therefore having a very powerful narrative: that faith, Church, communion, all of these things means something and are worthwhile in themselves, and are worth putting your life on the line for striking out into the deep if you will, to use that image from the Gospel. And that can be a very powerful narrative to people who are at least nominally within the Church, baptized Catholics or whatever, or for whoever for whatever reason their faith has grown lukewarm and their practice has grown spotty at best or something like this. That they can be welcomed and supported and encouraged in a particular way.

So, we start with this conversation in his kind of more typical way of “Avanti, Avanti, go out there, do this thing!” You know very encouraging that way. But since then, he has intervened twice in our legislation. And both times have been in order to make it easier for people to obtain canonical membership in the Ordinariate. So, I think from his point of view, the more that we can make this missionary the more that we can engage this work of communion, which is the heart of Anglicanorum coetibus, because it’s the heart of why we’re celebrating this Jubilee, the more lively of an expression of Catholic faith this can become.

Peter Smith also has another story with interviews from ordinariate members from around the globe that gives you some idea of what’s happening on the ground.

His piece starts with an interview with Christopher Mahon, the secretary of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society who is organizing our 10th Anniversary Conference in Toronto on the Anglican Tradition in the Catholic Church. Peter Smith writes:

Catholics in the ordinariates are not only marking 10 years of “ecumenism realized” Nov. 4, but are also busy laboring to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

For Christopher Mahon, the ordinariate’s establishment spiritually reunited his Anglican family within the Catholic Church and restored to him a liturgical and spiritual patrimony they previously had to leave behind in order to become Catholic.

“It has encouraged other members of my Anglican family and community to come into the Catholic Church and rejoin us there,” said Mahon, a member of the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an ordinariate parish in Ottawa, Canada.

“For us to see that our own traditions, which we cherish so much, have been deemed worthy and something that adds to the beauty and the holiness of the Church is very touching to us and has strengthened our sense of home in the Catholic Church,” he said.

I remember the initial euphoria that accompanied the publication of Anglicanorum coetibus.  We heard it was coming in October, and I was at the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops annual plenary at the time.  The evening before it was announced, I returned to my room and there were email to me from friends in Rome telling me it was coming and asking if it was for Anglicans like myself.

The next morning, when it was official, I felt my head would explode with joy, so in a sense the actual document’s publication was almost anti-climactic.

Not long after that Christian Campbell set up the Anglo-Catholic blog that helped connect people from around the globe who were interested in the project.

It was a great blog and I was privileged to take part in the conversation.

Those of us in the Traditional Anglican Communion hit some rough patches in 2010 as many bishops reneged on the solemn signing of the Catechism of the Catholic Church at St. Agatha’s in Portsmouth, England in 2007 that accompanied a petition brought by Archbishop Hepworth, Bishop Peter Wilkinson (now Msgr. Wilkinson) and Bishop Robert Mercer (now Msgr. Mercer) to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

20191015_102627In Rome last month, Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, Adjunct Secretary of CDF confirmed in a talk on the history of the document that the visit of the TAC  (he pronounced it “the Tack”) bishops provided a fresh impetus towards the publication of the document.

We have so much to be thankful for, because what we had prayed for, hoped for, dreamed of, has come to pass.   We are Catholic.  We are at home.  But we were allowed to bring many liturgical, musical, spiritual and pastoral treasures with us to be shared with the wider church.

download (1)  On Nov. 15-16, at the Anglican Tradition in the Catholic Church Conference, we will celebrate with Thanksgiving what God has done for us in the Catholic Church by sharing our treasures in St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica of the Archdiocese of Toronto.   The generous support of members of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society is making this possible

DSC04420I was searching for some articles or posts from around Nov. 4, 2009 and came across this by Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid on the prophecy of King Edward the Confessor.  

It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but perhaps a hopeful sign of what’s to come.

I just finished reading the text of Pope Benedict’s newly promulgated apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus (“Groups of Anglicans”)in which he opened wide the door for Anglicans to convert to the Catholic Church en masse and retain their identity as Anglo-Catholics. As many have commented before me, this is a bold and hugely significant step in the direction of finally bringing England herself back into the Catholic fold. May God hasten that day!

As I reflect on Anglicanorum Coetibus, I recall having read a few prophecies from long ago regarding the eventual reconversion of England to the ancient Catholic Faith it had professed for many centuries prior to the Protestant rebellion. This one, which can be found in the Catholic Encyclopedia, is particularly interesting, and I am inclined to think that Pope Benedict’s historic overture to Anglicans fits nicely into what St. Edward described in his prophecy:

Ambrose Lisle Philipps in a letter to the Earl of Shrewsbury dated 28 October, 1850, in giving a sketch of English Catholic history, relates the following vision or prophecy made by St. Edward:

“During the month of January, 1066, the holy King of England St. Edward the Confessor was confined to his bed by his last illness in his royal Westminster Palace. St. Ælred, Abbott of Rievaulx, in Yorkshire, relates that a short time before his happy death, this holy king was wrapt in ecstasy, when two pious Benedictine monks of Normandy, whom he had known in his youth, during his exile in that country, appeared to him, and revealed to him what was to happen to England in future centuries, and the cause of the terrible punishment.

They said: ‘The extreme corruption and wickedness of the English nation has provoked the just anger of God. When malice shall have reached the fullness of its measure, God will, in His wrath, send to the English people wicked spirits, who will punish and afflict them with great severity, by separating the green tree from its parent stem the length of three furlongs. But at last this same tree, through the compassionate mercy of God, and without any national (governmental) assistance, shall return to its original root, reflourish and bear abundant fruit.’

After having heard these prophetic words, the saintlyKing Edward opened his eyes, returned to his senses, and the vision vanished. He immediately related all he had seen and heard to hisvirgin spouse, Edgitha, to Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, and to Harold, his successor to the throne, who were in his chamber praying around his bed.” (See “Vita beati Edwardi regis et confessoris”, from manuscript Selden 55 in Bodleian Library, Oxford.)

The interpretation given to this prophecy is remarkable when applied to the events which have happened. The spirits mentioned in it were the Protestant innovators who pretended, in the sixteenth century, to reform the Catholic Church in England. The severance of the green tree from its trunk signifies the separation of the English Church from the root of the Catholic Church, from the Roman See.

This tree, however, was to be separated from its life-giving root the distance of “three furlongs”. These three furlongs are understood tosignify three centuries, at the end of which England would again be reunited to the Catholic Church, and bring forth flowers of virtue and fruits of sanctity. The prophecy was quoted by Ambrose Lisle Philipps on the occasion of the reestablishment of the Catholic hierarchy in England by Pope Pius IX in 1850.

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