Collins begins timetable for formation of Canadian ordinariates

  • March 30, 2011

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins has asked Canadians interested in joining a personal ordinariate for former Anglicans to signal their intention to join in writing by May 31.

He told the Anglicanorum Coetibus Conference held in Mississauga March 24-26 he wanted to “clarify the commitment” of individuals to find out “who wants to proceed, understanding exactly what it means.”

Collins, who is the episcopal delegate representing the Holy See in the formation of a personal ordinariate for former Anglicans within the Catholic Church, stressed the importance of individual conscience and that each individual have “fully informed consent to this.”

Though May 31 is not a deadline and Anglicans can commit to joining later, Collins said he wanted to provide the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with an idea of preliminary numbers.


“My role is to facilitate this,” he told the 140 delegates from the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, the Anglican Church and former Anglicans who are already Catholics.

The setting up of ordinariates, which will be on a parish-by-parish basis, is “more complex than it looks,” he said, noting that each country has different circumstances requiring the set-up of ordinariates to be different as well. 

The archbishop described himself as a “sympathetic friend doing my best” to deal with what he sensed was a “certain tension and anxiety out there.”

“It is based on a great degree of suffering, rejection and mistrust, often because of bitter and difficult experience,” he said.

As a friend, “hoping to be a brother,” he wanted to “just simply say relax, be at peace, it’s a liberating experience to have one Pope.”

Because of the strain and uncertainty, Collins said he hoped to move as quickly as possible.

“We’re going to do this right,” he said. “It is worthy of that.”

He pledged there would be “no delay, no dithering,” but the ordinariate would need to have a solid foundation. Among the highlights of the conference was the first public celebration of an Anglican Use Mass outside of the United States,  following Pope John Paul II’s pastoral provision which permitted the establishment of parishes using an approved Anglican liturgy within Roman Catholic dioceses where the bishops permitted them. Fr. Christopher Phillips, who founded the first Anglican Use parish in the United States, celebrated the Mass at St. Joseph’s Church March 25.

The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus moves beyond the pastoral provision by establishing a structure similar to dioceses, run by an ordinary who may be a married Catholic priest. But the Anglican Use parishes are forerunners of how Anglican patrimony can flourish within the Roman Catholic Church.

Phillips told the conference that there might have been 40-50 Anglican Use parishes in the United States if the decision to establish them were not left to individual bishops, many of whom rejected having them in their dioceses. There are seven Anglican Use parishes or communities in the United States, which want to be part of an American ordinariate when it is established, he said.

He admitted the Anglican Use liturgy was “put together too quickly, by a committee which could not agree among its own members.” 

“It’s amazing we got anything,” he said, noting it contained “great chunks of our liturgical life.

“It’s maybe not as much as we wanted, but it was a whole lot better than we expected,” he said, noting the Anglican Book of Divine Worship is undergoing revisions.

Collins, who had to leave the conference to attend the installation of Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix in Quebec City March 25, told the conference upon his return March 26 that even though the Mass in Quebec and the Mass in Mississauga were different in language and distinct in style, “each one of the celebrations is fundamentally identical.”

“It is the act of the Lord God coming amongst us in the Word and in the Holy Eucharist,” he said.

He spoke of how the ordinariates are not meant to preserve Anglican patrimony like a Jurassic Park with a “dome over it,” as his Australian counterpart has said, but to celebrate, share it with a dynamic, effective, alive way.

“We’re united in making the vision real in our country for the benefit of Anglicans involved and for the benefit of the universal Church,” he said.

Collins said he was appointing mentor priests who could guide the ordinariate-bound Anglican clergy in preparing their flocks for reception into the Catholic Church. The clergy will be examined on a case-by-case basis, he said, noting that those with a full Anglican formation for priesthood would need some supplementation but less than those who did not have Anglican training.

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