Back in March when then-Cardinal Bergolio was elected Pope, I expressed in this space my general optmism over the new Pope’s section, but raised a couple of caveats, including a question about the extent t which the new Pope Francis would support the Anglican Ordinariates initiated during the pontificate of Benedict XVI. It now appears that we have our answer. The Catholic News Agency today reported that Francis has chosen to expand the definition of who are eligible to join the Ordinariates:
Demonstrating the role of Anglican Ordinariates in the new evangelization, baptized Catholics can now join the groups set up for Anglican converts, according to a change in rules made by Pope Francis.
Those who were baptized Catholic but have not received Confirmation and First Communion are now allowed to join the ordinariates. Previously, baptized Catholics were not eligible to join the groups unless they had family who were ex-Anglicans.
“This confirms the place of the Personal Ordinariates within the mission of the wider Catholic Church, not simply as a jurisdiction for those from the Anglican tradition, but as a contributor to the urgent work of the New Evangelisation,” the United Kingdom’s ordinariate announced July 9….
Benedict XVI allowed for the groups to be set up with his 2009 apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus,” which provided for ordinariates, or Anglican communities wishing to enter into the Catholic Church.
His “complementary norms” governing the groups said that “those baptized previously as Catholics outside the Ordinariate are not ordinarily eligible for membership, unless they are members of a family belonging to the Ordinariate.”
On May 31, Pope Francis modified the complementary norms, adding a section which says that “a person who has been baptized in the Catholic Church but who has not completed the Sacraments of Initiation, and subsequently returns to the faith and practice of the Church as a result of the evangelizing mission of the Ordinariate, may be admitted to membership in the Ordinariate and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation or the Sacrament of the Eucharist or both.”
Presumably those who had hoped that Francis would prove to be more “liberal” or heterodox, than hs predecessor, are sorely disappointed. This should, however, come as good news to Catholic traditionalists generally, and those interested in the future of the Ordinariates in the Church more specifically.