General Questions about the Ordinariate
|What is the Ordinariate? Is it Catholic?|
The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is a new national structure, similar to a diocese, that was created canonically by the Holy See in 2012 for former Anglican communities and clergy seeking to become Catholic. These communities retain many aspects of their Anglican heritage, liturgy and traditions, but they are fully Catholic, subscribing to all the doctrines of the Catholic Church, and obedient to the See of Rome in the office of the Pope.
What is the mission of the Ordinariate and its parishes like St. Timothy's?
The Ordinariate exists for the same reason as the rest of the Catholic Church - for the salvation of souls. But while this mission requires a unity of belief, it does not require a unity of custom. As Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, recently noted in speaking of the Ordinariates, ‘our unity with one another as members of the one Body does not destroy our distinctiveness.’ Thus the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter has as its mission the salvation of souls through the rich liturgical, devotional and aesthetic traditions of the Anglican patrimony, much of which predates Reformation. By maintaining unity with the Church of Rome, it provides a bridge for those Anglicans seeking the same unity, while also making a broader witness to the hope of Christ for the unity of His Church: ‘That they may all be one.’ (John 17:21) In this respect, the Ordinariate has as its goal also to evangelize all others who may be fallen away from the faith, or open to encountering Christ for the first time.
The Anglican Communion believes that it is already Catholic. Aren’t the Ordinariates a rejection of that claim?
In the sense that Anglicans are not in communion with the Catholic Church, possessing the fullness of her truth, apostolic succession and sacraments, it is a rejection of such claims. Entry into full communion with the Catholic Church through the Ordinariates, then, can be said to be a completion and fulfillment of that identity, five centuries after the tragic break that led to the English Reformation.
Who runs the Ordinariate?
The Ordinariate is led by the Ordinary, Bishop Steven J. Lopes. He is based in Houston, Texas and is a full member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Ordinary is assisted by a Vicar general, Father Timothy Perkins and a Governing Council of at least six priests, presided over by the Ordinary. The Ordinariate also has a Pastoral Council for consultation with the laity and a Finance Council.
What is the Ordinariate’s relationship with local dioceses like the Diocese of Fort Worth?
The Ordinariate and its parishes are required by Church law to “maintain close ties of communion with bishops” of the local diocese, in order to coordinate its pastoral activity with that of the diocese. Ordinariate priests are likewise required to “cultivate bonds of unity” with the priests of the diocese where they exercise their ministry, working to promote common pastoral and charitable initiatives and activities. All of the Ordinariate communities located in the Diocese of Fort Worth strive to work in harmony with the Bishop Olson, the Diocese and its priests.
Is it true that Ordinariate priests are married? I thought the Catholic Church didn’t allow that.
It is true that most priests ordained in the Ordinariate are married. Some have taken a vow of celibacy like almost all other Catholic Priests. So far, these married catholic Priests have been men who previously ministered as ordained clergymen within Anglican churches, where the discipline long has been to permit the ordination of married men. Being part of the Latin Rite Church, the Ordinariate is still bound to observe the ancient Latin Rite discipline of a celibate clergy, but it is permitted to ordain married men as priests on a case by case basis, with the permission of the Holy See, which has been generous in accepting the applications of such men as priests.
Why did Pope Benedict XVI create the Ordinariates?
Pope Benedict XVI stated, when he published the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus in 2009, that as ‘the successor of Peter, mandated by the Lord Jesus to guarantee the unity of the episcopate and to preside over and safeguard the universal communion of all the Churches, [he] could not fail to make available the means necessary to bring this holy desire to realization’. This was in response to groups of Anglicans, some within the formal Anglican Communion and some outside of it, and one group of Episcopalian clergy from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth ‘repeatedly and insistently’ petitioning ‘to be received into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately’. In short, Pope Benedict created the Ordinariates to provide a formal structure to meet the desire of these groups of Anglican clergy and laity to be received into the Catholic Church.
How big is the Ordinariate? Where does it exist?
In Catholic canon law, a personal ordinariate is a special kind of diocese confined to specific national territory - much like a military ordinariate that serves members of a national armed forces. As of 2013, there are now three personal ordinariates:
The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was established for England, Wales and Scotland in January, 2011;
The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established for the United States and Canada in January, 2012;
The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross was established for Australia in June, 2012.
As of 2014, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is composed of over three dozen communities and a similar number of priests, with more in the process of admission and ordination, serving thousands of laity across the U.S. and Canada. A more up to date directory of Ordinariate communities can be found on the website of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.
Is the Ordinariate a separate rite within the Catholic Church, like the Ukrainians or the Maronites?
No, but it has some similarities. For one, the "Anglican Use” liturgy used in the Ordinariates is a separate liturgical use, or variant, within the Roman Rite, rather than an entirely separate liturgical rite. For another, the Ordinariate maintains its own leadership structure and priestly formation, but its priests are still considered priests of the Roman Rite, able to celebrate Mass according to the Roman Rite as well. Likewise, the Ordinariate has the benefit of some unique provisions, such as permission to request dispensing candidates for the priesthood from the discipline of celibacy, but it does not have its code of Canon Law like the Eastern Rites do.
Are there religious orders in the Ordinariate?
Not at present, but such orders are permitted. Under the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Ordinariate is composed of lay faithful, clerics and members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. In England, women religious from two Anglican religious orders joined the ordinariate there, and have been reconstituted as Catholic religious orders.
Can I join St. Timothy’s as a parishioner? If so, how?
Formal membership at St. Timothy's is not necessary to attend Mass or take part in normal parish life. You can join St. Timothy’s formally, however, if you meet any one of three conditions:
If you once belonged to the Anglican Communion or a continuing Anglican Church but are now in full communion with the Catholic Church; or
If you are a non-Catholic and receive the sacraments of initiation at St. Timothy's or another Ordinariate community; or
If you are a family member of someone belonging to the Ordinariate.
If you are a baptized Catholic who lapsed in the faith or converted to another denomination but are interested in formally joining Saint Timothy's, please contact our pastor.
Must I be a current or former Anglican in order to join St. Timothy's?
Not necessarily. While the Ordinariate exists as a particular bridge for Anglicans seeking to come into communion with the Catholic Church, it exists also as a vehicle for the New Evangelization, bringing souls to Christ through full communion with his Church. Non-Catholics and the unchurched are especially welcomed to consider joining the Ordinariate at St. Timothy's or any of the other area Ordinariate communities.
Are regular Catholics allowed to attend Mass at St. Timothy's?
Absolutely! All Catholics are welcome to attend Mass at St. Timothy’s, regardless of whether it is an Ordinariate Use Mass or a Roman Rite Mass.
Are members of St. Timothy's still Anglican?
No. Members of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter are Catholics of the Latin Rite, within the full communion of the Catholic Church. By civil law they are known as ‘Roman Catholics’. However, their heritage and traditions mean that they are Catholics from the Anglican Tradition. Members of the Ordinariate are, however, no longer part of any other religious group (such as the Episcopal Church, The Anglican Communion or the Anglican Church in North America)
Does joining St. Timothy’s automatically make me a member of the Ordinariate?
No. Officially joining St. Timothy's does not automatically qualify you as a member of the Ordinariate. Nor is joining the Ordinariate necessary unless you wish to have certain sacraments (such as marriage or confirmation) celebrated at St. Timothy's.
About the Sacraments:
If the Ordinariate is Catholic, why is the Mass at St. Timothy's so different from anything I usually see in regular Catholic parishes?
The Mass at St. Timothy’s is an Ordinariate Use Liturgy, which is actually a use, or variant, of the Roman Rite that you are likely accustomed to if you are a Catholic. It retains the same three-year lectionary, the same basic structure, much of the same liturgical calendar, and of course makes Christ present in his Eucharistic species of body, blood, soul and divinity like any Catholic Mass. Where it differs chiefly is in its elevated, hieratic English, its traditional rubrics and music (which are quite similar to the older, Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite or "Latin Mass"), and its penitential prayers, which more vividly evoke our humility and unworthiness before Christ our Lord. In short, while its language and rubrics are different, the substance is the same.
Does a Mass at St. Timothy’s fulfill my Sunday Mass obligation as a Catholic?
Yes. Attendance at any Ordinariate Mass fulfills your obligation (Canon 1247, 1248) to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.
May any Catholic receive Communion at St. Timothy's?
Yes. The only requirements are those that apply with any Catholic Mass: 1) being in the state of grace (per Canons 916, 988), and 2) having fasted for one hour (for the sick 15 minutes if possible, no fast if fasting is not possible) (Canon 919).
I noticed that you have a communion rail. If I want to receive Communion, am I required to kneel at it?
Communicants at Ordinariate Use Masses receive Holy Communion kneeling at the altar unless prevented by health.
Why do you receive Communion on the tongue? Can I receive Communion in the hand?
We encourage communicants to consider the example of Masses celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, where the faithful receive the Host directly on the tongue. Reception on the tongue is an ancient and honored practice in both the Anglican Use and the Roman Rite. As with the Roman Rite, communicants have the right to receive the Host either on the tongue or in the hand.
Why do you receive Communion under both kinds? If I approach to receive Communion, am I required to receive both kinds?
Reception of Communion under both kinds is a longstanding tradition in Anglican Use liturgies, and the Ordinariate preserves that tradition. While you are encouraged to receive Communion in both the Host and the Precious Blood, the Host is sufficient, as Christ is equally present in both Eucharistic species.
Can an Ordinariate priest celebrate Mass at other Catholic parishes?