Donate | Contact | Join | Login 
Advanced Search
Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman

In this section:



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Introduction to the FAQ

On 15 January 2011 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a Decree which formally erected a Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church within the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales. The Personal Ordinariate was named The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and placed under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman.

The establishment of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham represents the first fruits of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, issued by Pope Benedict XVI on 4 November 2009.

Anglicanorum coetibus and the accompanying Complementary Norms, published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, provide the essential norms that enable Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, whilst preserving those elements of the Anglican tradition which are consonant with the Catholic Faith, and within a Personal Ordinariate.

In time, it is expected that further Personal Ordinariates will be established in other parts of the world to meet the desire of those Anglican communities who in, a similar way, seek to be united in communion with the Successor of St Peter.

1.   Why did Pope Benedict XVI publish Anglicanorum coetibus?

The Holy Father stated, when he published Anglicanorum coetibus, 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 'repeatedly and insistently' petitioning 'to be received into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately'.

During his address to the Catholic Bishops' of England and Wales at St Mary's College, Oscott, in September 2010, the Holy Father was keen to stress that the Apostolic Constitution "should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics". He went on to state that "[Anglicanorum coetibus] helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all".

In this way, the establishment of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is clearly intended to serve the wider and unchanging aim of the full visible unity between the Catholic Church and the members of the Anglican Communion.

2.   Are members of the Ordinariate still Anglicans?

Members of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are Catholics of the Latin Rite, within the full communion of the Catholic Church. By civil law they are known, as all Catholics in England and Wales are known, as 'Roman Catholics'. However, their heritage and traditions mean that they are Catholics from the Anglican Tradition.

Members of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are no longer part of any other communion (such as the Anglican Communion).

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is not a distinct Ritual Church within the Catholic Church, but a diocese-like structure within the Episcopal Conference of England and Wales.

One of the principal aims of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus is "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". Members of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham bring with them, into the full communion of the Catholic Church in all its diversity and richness of liturgical rites and traditions, aspects of their own Anglican patrimony and culture which are consonant with the Catholic Faith.

Anglican patrimony can be understood to be those elements of the Anglican tradition which have sustained and nurtured the faith of those in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. This includes spiritual writings, prayers, music, as well as those pastoral practices distinctive to the Anglican tradition which have sustained the faith and longing of many Anglican faithful for that very unity for which Christ prayed.

The members of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham bring gifts to the Catholic Church for mutual enrichment, in an authentic and visible form of full communion, between those baptised and nurtured in the Anglican tradition and the Catholic Church.

3.   Do all Anglicans who wish to become Catholics
      now have to be members of the Personal Ordinariate?

The Holy Father's offer of a Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church is a generous and pastoral response to the desire of Anglicans for unity with the See of Peter. It represents the fruit of earlier discussions (the Malines Conversations and ARCIC, for example), and provides the natural home within the Catholic Church, for those members of the Anglican tradition who have hoped and prayed, since the foundation of the Oxford Movement and before, for the reunion of Anglicanism with the Catholic Church.

Although members of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are generally received in groups, this is not necessarily the case, and even those being received in groups must make an individual petition and profession of faith.

That said, it is still possible for any non-Catholic to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church through their geographical parish or diocese.

4.   What is the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham then?

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is a specific ecclesiastical jurisdiction which juridically equivalent to a diocese and is overseen by its own Ordinary (see below) who may be a priest or bishop.

Unlike a diocese, whose membership is on a territorial basis, the membership of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is on a 'personal' basis. In other words, no matter where a member of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham lives, within the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales, they will in the first instance be under the ordinary ecclesial jurisdiction of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and not the diocese where they are territorially based.

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is made up of laity, clergy and religious who were nurtured within the Anglican tradition. Following reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church, laity and religious become members of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham by enrolment in a register; with the ordination of priests and deacons, clergy are directly incardinated into (placed under the jurisdiction of) the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

5.   Is the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
      like a diocesan bishop?

The Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is juridically equivalent to a diocesan bishop but his power is vicarious (rather than proper) and his authority is personal (rather than immediate).

Each diocesan bishop is the Ordinary for his diocese (this does not mean 'ordinary' in the sense of common or normal but is an ecclesiastical term which means someone who exercises power and has jurisdiction by virtue of the office they hold).

The power which the diocesan bishop exercises is ordinary (related to his office as a diocesan bishop), proper (exercised in his own name, not vicariously) and immediate (directed toward all in the territory of his diocese).

The power exercised by the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is ordinary (related to the specific office entrusted to him), vicarious (exercised in the name of the Roman Pontiff) and personal authority (directed to all who belong to the Ordinariate).

As the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (from here on referred to simply as ‘the Ordinary’) has similar authority and responsibilities in Canon Law to a diocesan bishop he is therefore an ex officio member of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. As a member of the Conference, the Ordinary, like a diocesan bishop, takes a full part in its discussions and decisions.

The Ordinary exercises collegiate responsibility for implementing the resolutions taken by the Conference within the life of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, in the same way that a diocesan bishop does so within his diocese.

As with diocesan bishops, the Ordinary is required to make a visit to Rome every five years (traditionally called the ad limina Apostolorum – to the threshold of the Apostles) and present a report on the status of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham to the Pope through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in consultation with the Congregation for Bishops.

6.   Who is the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham?

The Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham must be a priest or a bishop. Monsignor Keith Newton, the first and current Ordinary, was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in January 2011. All subsequent Ordinaries will be appointed by the Roman Pontiff from a terna (list of three names) presented by the Governing Council of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (see below).

A married former Anglican bishop or priest who has been subsequently ordained as a Catholic priest cannot be ordained as a Catholic bishop whilst their spouse is still living. Though Mgr Newton is a former Anglican bishop, he is married and so is not eligible for ordination as a Catholic bishop.

7.   How is the Ordinariate governed?

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is governed by a Governing Council of at least six priests, presided over by the Ordinary. Half of the membership is elected by the priests of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. The Ordinariate also has a Pastoral Council for consultation with the laity and a Finance Council.

The Governing Council has the same rights and responsibilities in Canon Law that the College of Consultors and the Council of Priests have in the governance of a diocese. Unlike a diocesan bishop though, and out of respect for the synodal tradition of Anglicanism, the Ordinary requires the consent of the Governing Council to: admit a candidate to Holy Orders; erect or suppress a personal parish; erect or suppress a house of formation; approve a programme of formation.

The Ordinary must also consult the Governing Council concerning the pastoral activities of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and the principles governing the formation of clergy.

The Governing Council has a deliberative vote when: choosing a terna of names to submit to the Holy See for the appointment of the Ordinary; proposing changes to the Complementary Norms of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham to present to the Holy See; when formulating the Statutes of the Governing Council, the Statutes of the Pastoral Council, and the Rule for houses of formation.

8.   Does the Ordinariate have parishes and deaneries?

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham will, in the future, have parishes where it has groups of members. These will be 'personal' parishes and not 'territorial' like a diocesan parish. Where membership of a diocesan parish comes from living within the defined territorial boundaries of that parish, to be a member of a 'personal' parish in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, a person must be a member of the group for which that parish was established, i.e. an initial member of an Ordinariate Group or someone who has joined a specific Group within the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

After obtaining the consent of the Governing Council and consulting with the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Ordinary may erect territorial deaneries for a number of personal parishes which will be supervised by a delegate of the Ordinary.

9.   Who looks after the Ordinariate Groups and parishes?

Groups and parishes within the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are served by the clergy of the Ordinariate, appointed by the Ordinary. A Parish Priest may be assisted by a Parochial Vicar (assistant priest) and/or a deacon. Once a parish is established it must have a Pastoral Council and a Finance Council.

Clergy and religious from territorial dioceses, with the consent of their diocesan bishop or religious superior, may also assist in the pastoral care of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, under the supervision of the Ordinary when and where it is deemed suitable. Similarly, clergy incardinated into the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham assist in the pastoral care of the faithful in the local diocese, in consultation with the diocesan bishop and the Ordinary.

10.   What liturgy do the members of the
        Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham celebrate?

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham celebrates the liturgy according to those liturgical books of the Anglican tradition which have been adapted and approved by the Holy See, as well as the Roman Rite.

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is not a Ritual Church and, as such, cannot be principally defined by the liturgical rites it celebrates.

At present the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham may make use of the liturgical books proper to the Roman Rite and those texts authorised and allowed by the Holy See, proper to the Anglican tradition.

11.   What churches does the Ordinariate use?

In most cases the previous places of worship used by the Groups who form the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham were in the ownership of the Church of England. It is, therefore, unusual for them to continue to be used by members of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Ordinariate Groups often use their local diocesan Catholic Church for the celebration of Mass and other liturgies, and in some places a Church building has been given over to the principal use of the Ordinariate Group.

The needs of each Ordinariate Group are carefully assessed by the Ordinary and the most suitable pastoral arrangements are made by him in collaboration with the local diocesan bishop.

12.   Can any Catholic be able to attend a Mass celebrated
        within an Ordinariate Group or by an Ordinariate priest?

Yes. Any Catholic, whether a member of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham or a member of a diocese, can attend Mass, receive Holy Communion and participate in the liturgies of an Ordinariate Group or those celebrated by an Ordinariate priest.

Similarly, registered members of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are free to attend Mass, receive Holy Communion and participate in the liturgies of any Catholic Church.

13.   How is the Ordinariate funded?

Like every diocese, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is expected to support financially its own clergy both when they are in ministry and when they have stepped down from public ministry.

As with a diocese, it makes plans to ensure that it is financially secure and that its pastoral needs can be met. Just as every diocese in England and Wales depends upon the contributions that each parish receives from Sunday collections to finance not only the running and maintenance of the parishes but also its central services, so too the Ordinariate obtains similar support.

The Friends of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are the principal fund-raising body for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. If you would like to assist financially, please visit their website.

Closing Remarks

These Frequently Asked Questions were initially put together by Fr Marcus Stock, General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales. As time has progressed, the nature of the answers and some of the information available has been updated. Any inconsistencies or concerns should be addressed by email.