Toronto's Archbishop Thomas Collins CNS photo/Archdiocese of Toronto

Collins appointed liaison for Anglicans wishing to join Catholic Church

  • July 5, 2010

OTTAWA - Toronto's Archbishop Thomas Collins is throwing out the welcome mat for all Anglicans in Canada who wish to become Catholic.

The archbishop has been named the liaison for groups of Anglicans who might want to avail themselves of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus (AC). The AC offers a special structure so Anglicans can join the Roman Catholic Church corporately, while retaining aspects of their identity and patrimony, such as their liturgy.

“This is not an initiative by the Catholic Church,” said Collins. “It’s a response to groups of Anglicans that have indicated an interest in doing this.”

The structure is called a "personal ordinariate," modelled on the ordinariates for the military that transcend the geographical boundaries of Roman Catholic dioceses. Each ordinariate will be headed by an ordinary who may or may not be a bishop, as bishops are required to be celibate. The Pope recognized that many Anglican clergy are married and has allowed for married priests and ordinaries on a case-by-case basis.

Collins was appointed liaison by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' Permanent Council. He said his first task is to start getting in touch with anyone who is interested in responding to the Holy Father’s document.   

Collins is trying to get a sense of how many might be interested in the ordinariate. He said Canada is a little further behind other countries in the process, as the AC was announced during the bishops' plenary meeting last October, but was not published until November.

While Collins will be the point-man in Canada, he said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal William Levada will be guiding the complex process of bringing ordinariates into being.

But appointing a liaison is a first step, because relations with the episcopal conferences in each country will be a “crucial factor” as the ordinariates will be “developed within the existing structure of the Church in that country” and the new ordinary will be a member of the bishops’ conference, he said. Ordinaries who are married Catholic priests will have the same status in the conference as retired bishops.

Collins plans to make a report to the annual bishops' plenary in late October.

One of the groups he has contacted is the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, part of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC).  The TAC’s 2007 letter to Rome, asking to come into communion with the Holy See, was one of the first formal approaches, though many groups have been in talks with Rome for some time.

But Collins pointed out the TAC is not the only group involved. Various individuals, parishes and other bodies may express interest. The TAC is the largest of the so-called Continuing Anglican groups that broke away from the Anglican Communion of Canterbury.

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