Vatican sees no future for married clergy in Anglican Ordinariate

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologySacramental Theology

Posted April 29, 2011 at 4:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Ralph wrote:

A “temporary aberration?”

Again, a “temporary aberration?”

“the enduring value of celibacy will be reaffirmed, necessitating that for the future, unmarried priests will be the norm in such ordinariates.” with “other diocesan seminarians, thereby ensuing them serious academic, pastoral and spiritual preparation. The acceptance of these Anglicans will be considered in the context of their allegiance to the doctrine and practices of the Catholic church.”

Oh my.

We are the Romans. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

It’s good to be reminded, now and then, that the world still needs Anglicanism.

April 29, 6:20 pm | [comment link]
2. Ad Orientem wrote:

And this is surprising because…?

April 29, 6:30 pm | [comment link]
3. Drew Na wrote:

This is what Bertone has said all along, but it has always been Bertone. And please note: celibacy is “the norm” for the ordinariates, as the documents already say. Latin is also “the norm” for Roman Catholic liturgy: contrary to the nature of the headline, stating that something is not the de iure “norm” by no means indicates that it “has no future.”

April 29, 6:34 pm | [comment link]
4. carl wrote:

It must become the norm.  A celibate priest is an inexpensive and flexible priest.  He has no wife or children to take into account.  But there is more than this to consider.  The Roman Catholic authorities who demand the discipline of celibacy are those who have already lived the commitment.  To reverse the discipline of celibacy is to retro-actively denigrate the sacrifice of those who kept the discipline at great cost.  That is tough medicine to swallow. 

Of course it is yet one among the many errors of Rome.  But if a man chooses the path of Rome, then he cannot select the doctrines and dogmas and disciplines to which he will be subject.  He goes to Rome.  Rome does not come to him.  There is no mystery here.  There is no surprise.  There is no assimilation.  If a man accepts the yoke of Rome, then he must go where he is driven by Rome.  He has no cause to kick against the goads.


April 29, 8:56 pm | [comment link]
5. TACit wrote:

Dear me, you make that sound like a crushing burden, carl.  Someone should warn B16, so he won’t come across so darn cheerful and loving all the time…...

April 29, 9:20 pm | [comment link]
6. Teatime2 wrote:

Wait, don’t the Catholic Rites such as Byzantine and Maronite permit married priests?

April 29, 9:28 pm | [comment link]
7. Anglicanum wrote:

Good Lord, Carl, where did you get that little speech?  Spartacus?

April 29, 10:22 pm | [comment link]
8. Kubla wrote:

[6] Yes you are right there are married priests in most Eastern Catholic churches, but I think the deal with the Ordinariate is that these priests are being admitted into the Latin Rite church, and so the celibacy rule would apply to them.

April 29, 11:01 pm | [comment link]
9. Cennydd13 wrote:

For those married Anglican clergy thinking of entering the Ordinariate:  Do you still want to do that?  Think about it.

April 30, 1:16 am | [comment link]
10. rickk wrote:

The Pastoral Provision made a way for already married Anglican clergy to enter the Church without compromising the celibate priesthood.  The Ordinariate will also make a way for those already married to come into the Church with their parishes or as groups and not compromise the celibate priesthood.  Those married Anglican clergy who are coming into the Church want the Church to preserve the celibate priesthood.  And, I can assure you, so do many of their wives, even those who may have been Anglican clergy themselves.
The idea of Anglican Patrimony which receives so much attention in discussions on the Ordinariate needs to be read in the light of Benedict XVI’s view of Ecumenism which is the real reason for Anglicanorum Coetibus.  We must begin to seriously consider what true union in the Body of Christ requires.  For those of us who have walked and are walking this pilgrim way, we have come to the realization of the generosity of the Holy Father’s gesture.  We are uniting ourselves with the one, holy catholic and apostolic Church in which the fullness of Christ subsists.  We are not trying to create a “Little Oxford” in the middle of the Vatican.

Ut unum sint.

April 30, 1:52 am | [comment link]
11. Ross wrote:

I suspect that if the RCC had intended for Anglican liturgy and Anglican discipline to be a permanent part of the Catholic Church, they would have created an Anglican Rite, like the Eastern Rite.  They didn’t offer that; which suggests to me that they always intended this arrangement to be a transitional one.  I presume that the people moving to the Ordinariate understand that.

April 30, 2:38 am | [comment link]
12. Teatime2 wrote:

But why are they seemingly attempting to bring and keep the Anglicans in congregational blocks with their priests if it’s only transitional? Better to transition them into the regular RCC parishes immediately than to authorize a liturgy for them, only to pull the rug out from under them later.

April 30, 2:55 am | [comment link]
13. Fralupo wrote:

I think Teatime’s second option seems to be closer to how the higher-ups in Rome want the Ordinariates to evolve.  All married clergy are accepted “on a case by case basis” (according to AC VI§2).  The previous section cites an encyclical by Paul VI which says:

...on the other hand, a study may be allowed of the particular circumstances of married sacred ministers of Churches or other Christian communities separated from the Catholic communion, and of the possibility of admitting to priestly functions those who desire to adhere to the fullness of this communion and to continue to exercise the sacred ministry. The circumstances must be such, however, as not to prejudice the existing discipline regarding celibacy.  (Sacerdotalis Caelibatus ¶42)

The way I interpret this is that married former Anglican clergy will be allowed to become Catholic priests at much higher rates than (future) married Ordinariate Catholics.  Speculatively, they could still become married permanent deacons, just like other Latin-rite Catholics.

Just a layman’s view.

April 30, 3:55 am | [comment link]
14. MichaelA wrote:

Ross at #12,

I think that is a fair assumption. If in any case it isn’t, I guess we will hear about it sooner or later.

April 30, 4:09 am | [comment link]
15. Sarah wrote:

I’m with Carl.  There’s no mystery or surprise here.  People are converting to the RC church.

The RC church believes certain things that are quite well-known and public.

Therefore if one converts to Rome it is assumed that one actually, you know, believes RC doctrine and dogma.

I don’t see the problem or surprise or even “the assimilation.” Of course, RCs believe RC things.

April 30, 8:06 am | [comment link]
16. DaveW wrote:

Rome has not played anything like a bait-and-switch deal.  Never was there any statement or publication from Rome that declared married priests would be the norm in the Ordinairate.  The Ordinariate will carry on with an Anglican Use liturgy, its own seminaries, and its own Ordinary.  and yes, after the initial conversions of parishes and individuals, candidates for Holy Orders in the Orindariate must take a vow of celibacy as do all other Roman Catholic priests.

However, one thing I have not seen discussed in this thread yet is that the Pastoral Provision will also continue on concurrently with the Ordinariate.  There are some married clergy who do not want to join the Ordinariate, and they may still be accepted and become priests, however not Pastors.  They must come under the authority of a regular Roman Catholic priest who is in charge of the cure of souls in that parish.  Pastoral Provision priests can do nearly all of what a Pastor does—i.e. say daily Mass, baptisms, marriages, funerals, etc.—in parishes, or they may have some other kind of administrative position and work as supply priests, or chaplains, but they can never have the title of Pastor.  They have the official title of Administrator.

To my knowledge there are no plans to retire the Pastoral Provision, so there will always be some, albeit a tiny minority, of married Roman Catholic priests around.

April 30, 11:11 am | [comment link]
17. Ralph wrote:

Sarah, you’re absolutely right - as is carl.

But…Anglicans aren’t used to being told what they have to believe, from the era of the Anglican Settlement, to the present day. Those who swim to Rome have never known despotic dogmatic and doctrinal rigidity. Consider the historic “interpretations” of the 39 Articles by the Anglo-Catholic bishops vs. those of the evangelical faction. More close to home, consider the fact that TEC doctrine is that Holy Matrimony is between man and woman. Consider that TEC has never adopted a statement with doctrinal or dogmatic force that homosexual practice is not sinful.

WIll GAFCON and ACNA bring about absolute doctrinal unity within Anglicanism? I don’t think so, and I certainly hope that they don’t try.

Given the present schism, Anglicans are quite susceptible to being blinded by the allure of Rome, since the Eastern worship traditions are unfamiliar and since many cannot stomach the rigidity and sacramental sparseness of historic hyper-Calvinism. (Sorry, carl, but I hope you know what I mean.) Perhaps some think that Rome would tolerate their present beliefs and customs, quietly allowing them to footnote the Roman catechism, while providing shelter in the storm.


To me, the story implies that all Anglican beliefs, practices and customs are temporary aberrations. Bertone remarks that clergy moving to Rome will undergo training with seminarians to give them “serious academic, pastoral and spiritual preparation.” I suspect that Dean Munday (of Nashotah House) might roll his eyes at that. I choked when I read it, given that Roman seminaries in the US have been hotbeds (so to speak) of homosexual practice and coercion.

Hence the assimilation warning, which needs to be repeated again, and again. Anglicans who are thinking about switching over to Rome need to be very well-versed in church history, need to study the Roman catechism with a highlighter, and need to swallow all of it. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. Hook, line, and sinker. Even the parts that are utterly inconsistent with Holy Scripture.

There were good reasons for the Reformation, and there were good reasons for Anglicanism. In my mind, many of those are still valid.

April 30, 12:02 pm | [comment link]
18. Canon King wrote:

I must admit to some confusion about all of this. The last I checked, there was only one Bishop in Rome who wears the white simar. Perhaps it would be good to pay attention to what he has said rather than to the “clarifications” offered by those in violet and scarlet.
Secondly, what difference is it supposed to make to me? If I, or another married Anglican Priest were considering the American Ordinariate once it is established, am I supposed to think twice because the rules may require celebacy in the future? That is, am I supposed to be constitutionally opposed to the norm of a celibate priesthood regardless of what exceptions may be made?

April 30, 12:06 pm | [comment link]
19. montanan wrote:

I cannot imagine being called to swim the Tiber.  (Then again, there have been many things God has called me to about which I’ve had to do a double take!)  However, it seems to me the intentions and expectations regarding this provision within the RCC have been fairly clear.  Of course those who make that pilgrimmage need to fully adopt RC doctrine as expressed in chatechism and magesterial pronouncement.  The ability to apply and interpret such things as one feels led after serious prayer, reflection and submission to God has been one of the great strengths - and greatest weaknesses - of Anglicanism.  No one seriously making this journey would expect that taking Anglican-style liturgy and worship means taking Anglican thinking, as well.

The “three-legged stool” of Anglican thinking has always been a subtle - and treacherous - malformation of what was originally said.  A better visual for it would be a tricycle or a Big Wheel - the biggest wheel drives the vehicle and is Scripture.  Tradition and reason support the vehicle and allow it to move - but only when powered and steered by the leading of Scripture.

It would be valuable to stop having the “See?  See?  It’s really going to a salt mine to go there!  It’s a trap!” kind of talk.  It would be just as valuable to stop having the “I once was blind but now can see - the RCC is the only place where true Christians reside” kind of talk.  There are many who believe such - and I welcome them saying so.  But we all must realize that we convince no one with such fist-pounding on either side.

IMHO.  smile

April 30, 12:52 pm | [comment link]
20. Catholic Mom wrote:

Actually I thought Carl’s first paragraph was absolutely correct in explaining why celibacy is not about to go away in the Catholic Church.

As to Ralph’s comments—I couldn’t figure out if he was being sarcastic or not.  I finally decided he was serious in bemoaning the fact that Anglicans are not used to having to…you know…actually believe what the Church they belong to believes.

April 30, 1:36 pm | [comment link]
21. rickk wrote:

I have re-read my comment above in the light of day and, seeing that it could be read in two ways, I want to be explicit:
I am in no way surprised by this article and having responded favorably to the Holy Father’s invitation, I believe that this way forward is the best way for Anglicanorum Coetibus to be lived out in reunion with Rome.

April 30, 1:37 pm | [comment link]
22. Catholic Mom wrote:

I mean bemoaning the fact that Anglicans who are not used to actually have to believe what their Church teaches (or possibly, not actually having a Church that is any too specific in what it teaches) who join the ordinariate will now (gasp!) find that their Church teaches with great specificity and (gasp) expects its adherents to accept those teachings.

April 30, 1:49 pm | [comment link]
23. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Anglicans who are thinking about switching over to Rome need to be very well-versed in church history, need to study the Roman catechism with a highlighter, and need to swallow all of it.”

Oh agreed, by all means.  But then . . . if they *haven’t* understood what they’re converting to, then I don’t have a whole lot of respect for their decision making anyway.

I mean—if some of them leave again and bleat about the RCs actually believing what RCs believe, my respect level plummets.  It *certainly* isn’t the RCs’ fault if others are incredibly ignorant, shallow, ill-informed, and fleeing because they want a flowery bed of ease.  That’s really their lookout.

RE: “There were good reasons for the Reformation, and there were good reasons for Anglicanism. In my mind, many of those are still valid.”

Totally agree—remember, I’m a happy Protestant.  I just see no reason to blame the RCs for ignorant converts.

April 30, 2:47 pm | [comment link]
24. nwlayman wrote:

Ah, the extraordinary nature of the Ordinariate!  I knew one of the original “Pastoral Provision” clergy who began his conversion process the day it was offered.  They made him jump through hoops for five years before he was ordained.  When he retired from parish ministry he moved to Olympia, WA where there is a parish with, no kidding, 3000 families.
He was forbidden by the local bishop to serve in any capacity whatsoever in this parish, which you will notice has a grand total of *two* priests.  He could not hear confessions, celebrate any Mass, nothing.  This was a man as all the PP clergy were, hand approved by the Pope.  He had celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s in Rome.  the bishop of *that* diocese had no problem with him, but Seattle did.  I expect the new versions of Anglican converts will have just as much practical acceptance as my friend did thirty years ago.  He finally became an Easter Rite priest and served in the small ER parish in Olympia.  If people thing the Ordinariate is a solution, beware.

April 30, 2:57 pm | [comment link]
25. montanan wrote:

nwlayman #28:  FWIW, one of my good friends moved across to Rome via the Pastoral Provision five or so years ago - he and his family were well-accepted and included by their New Mexico parish - though it took the parish (and the priest/family, for that matter) a little time to figure it out.  It also took far less time to be received into ministry than your friend.  I suspect your friend was a victim of being in the very first group to make that move.

April 30, 4:00 pm | [comment link]
26. Ralph wrote:

Sarah writes, “I just see no reason to blame the RCs for ignorant converts,” and “...if they *haven’t* understood what they’re converting to, then I don’t have a whole lot of respect for their decision making anyway.”

I do agree with the first part. Conversion to a different branch of Christianity is something that should be undertaken very carefully and seriously by anyone, but especially for clergy who made certain vows at the time of their ordination.

As for the second part, I see your point. But I also know that we human beings can be impulsive, and we don’t always make important decisions having considered all the factors involved. Furthermore, we have selective blindness in the face of infatuation.

So, it will be interesting to see how many former Anglicans come back to Anglicanism from the Ordinariate or Pastoral Provision.

Lastly, the real enemy in all of this is the devil. I don’t think that schisms and other types of church fights are manifestations of God’s will.

April 30, 4:45 pm | [comment link]
27. carl wrote:

31. Catholic Mom

Motion is always defined in a reference frame.  I can without any difficulty define a reference frame in which the Sun orbits the Earth.  I simply place the center of the reference frame at the center of the Earth and define all motion relative to that center.  This is not a stationary reference frame, but that doesn’t really matter.  It still properly defines motion.  The natural reference frame in which people live is called a Local Level Reference frame.  It’s always tangent to the Earth at the location of the observer.  In this frame, the Sun appears to rise in the East and set on the West. 

None of these motions are more correct than any other.  They are simply different definitions of the same motion. So when people say “The Earth orbits the Sun” they are implicitly saying “The Earth orbits the sun in a reference frame that is stationary relative to both the Earth and the Sun.”  They are referring to some definition of absolute motion on the assumption it is more correct.  Different reference frames have different purposes.  The correct frame is defined by the need.

None of this has any implication for the truth or falsehood of Scripture.  The conflict around a Copernican model of the universe centered on the (false) idea that if man was the central fact of creation, then the physical location of the Earth had to model that centrality.  It was not science at the center of the conflict but theology.  The church was not wrong about Scripture.  It was wrong because it imposed an arbitrary philosophical construct onto Scripture.


April 30, 6:13 pm | [comment link]
28. David Hein wrote:

no. 1: “It’s good to be reminded, now and then, that the world still needs Anglicanism.”


April 30, 6:39 pm | [comment link]
29. deaconmark wrote:

What a great deal of fuss over something so limited.  900 people left for Rome {in England } ?  Three times that would not constitutes a single suburban RC parish in my part of the world.  And i dare say many more than 900 divorced Roman Catholics enter the Episcopal church each year in my state.  Let them go in peace and God bless them on their way.

April 30, 6:53 pm | [comment link]
30. Teatime2 wrote:

#30 Ralph,
I agree with you. On the topic of conversion, I only hope that these good souls were not pawns in clergy activism, groomed to accept the move that the clergy involved favored.

I don’t trust most clergy activism. The flip side of this action would be what clergy activism inflicted on TEC and the wider Church via VGR and company.

I anticipate that some of the laity will return to the C of E, if the swim hasn’t burned them on organized religion/church membership entirely. Some may require marriage “do-overs” and annulments to be in full communion.

April 30, 7:10 pm | [comment link]
31. Caedmon wrote:

Amening 1 and 34.  Glad to be Anglican.

April 30, 7:14 pm | [comment link]
32. Anglicanum wrote:

900 people left for Rome {in England } ?  Three times that would not constitutes a single suburban RC parish in my part of the world.

Yes, but 900 people would constitute about 18 entire parishes in the Episcopal Church, so ... doesn’t sound like chump change to me, deaconmark.

April 30, 9:46 pm | [comment link]
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