Surprise, surprise! Rome rolls out the red carpet for unhappy Anglicans
Taking a page from arrangements in the U.S., U.K, and Australia, Rome is preparing a legal process for Anglicans unhappy over women's ordination and a more permissive approach to homosexuality to enter the Roman Catholic Church--while keeping their Anglicanism intact.
According to the Washington Post, Rome intends to create "personal ordinariates"--basically a loosely geographical diocese that serves Catholics who still want to use Anglican liturgies. This isn't unlike the "personal prelature" created by the late Pope John Paul for Opus Dei, which gave Opus Dei its own bishop with jurisdiction over its members.
The personal ordinariate will be governed either by a priest or bishop (I bet it will be the latter). Married Anglican priests will be ordained as Roman Catholic priests; married bishops will, however, not be able to function as bishops, given the long (though not consistent) tradition in Orthodox and Roman Catholic churhes of ordaining only unmarried priests to the order of bishop. The Anglicans-turned-Catholics will also be allowed their own houses of formation--seminaries--to preserve the "Anglican patrimony" in the Catholic church. In other words, this could be a permanent arrangement.
I find this an interesting move, especially since it further undermines the celibate clergy in the Roman rite. Why wouldn't a man who wanted to marry switch to the personal ordinariate to be ordained? Believe me, the day will come when these Anglo-Catholic priests are enlisted in regular Roman Catholic parishes, and married clergy will be a done deal.
P.S.: Expect the same arrangement for the Society of St. Pius X when the time comes. I fully expect the use of this novel "personal ordinariate" to accommodate other groups that want to go their own way liturgically and otherwise--so long as they are on the proper end of the political spectrum, which has been the Roman approach to ecumenism of late, as I argued in my September 2008 column.