Married former Anglican bishops are eligible to head new Church jurisdictions overseeing Anglican converts to Catholicism, according to guidelines that accompany the much-awaited apostolic constitution from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
However, they can do so only as ordained Catholic priests, says the document, published Nov. 9.
Anglican converts will also be allowed to keep some of their liturgical traditions "which have been approved by the Holy See."
The document says that the Pope will appoint the heads of the new Church jurisdictions, called personal ordinariates, who will be members of local bishops' conferences and be required to make the five-yearly ad limina visits to Rome.The constitution allows for married Anglican deacons, priests or bishops to be ordained as Catholic priests, but priests who are not married when they join the Catholic Church must remain celibate if they wish to be ordained.
Married men may be ordained only "on a case by case basis" if approved by the Pope.
The text of the apostolic constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus" (Anglican groups) was released by the Vatican press office together with an accompanying set of "Complementary Norms" to guide implementation.
Former Anglicans entering the Catholic Church can preserve "liturgical celebrations according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See."
"The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith professed by members of the Ordinariate," the constitution says.
The Pope approved the norms which were signed by Cardinal William Levada and Jesuit Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria, prefect and secretary of the CDF respectively. The Vatican, in a press release, says the constitution "does not signify any change in the Church's discipline of clerical celibacy." It also states that a Catholic priest who became an Anglican priest "may not exercise the ministry" in the new canonical structure."This Apostolic Constitution opens a new avenue for the promotion of Christian unity while, at the same time, granting legitimate diversity in the expression of our common faith," the release says.
It asserts that this was "not an initiative on the part of the Holy See, but a generous response from the Holy Father to the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups."
It claims the provision of this new canonical structure "is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue."
Jesuit Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, says the provision does not create a new Ritual Church as this might result in "ecumenical difficulties." The priest wrote a commentary, "The Significance of the Apostolic Constitution," which the Vatican issued, also on Nov. 9.
Read the full piece (here) in the Indian Catholic