As the Jan. 1, 2012 date given for the creation of a Roman Catholic Ordinariate, or church body, for disaffected Anglicans draws near, some departing churches say they do not expect significant differences in their worship and practice.
An ordinariate is a geographical region similar to a diocese except that it is national in scope. They are headed by an “ordinary,” which can be a bishop or a priest.
Some congregations that have severed their ties with the Episcopal Church have petitioned the pope to become part of the Catholic Church, under the condition that they retain elements of Anglican tradition, also known as “Anglican Patrimony.”
Bishop Louise Campese of the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Orlando, Fla., who also serves as Bishop Ordinary for Pro-Diocese of the Holy Family, said that even though all changes had not been decided for his congregation, he believes there will not be extensive changes.
“There are going to be some changes, but not something foreign to the Anglican Patrimony,” said Campese, who added that he had “no more information than that at this time.”
Even before voting to join the Roman Catholic Church, Campese’s congregation considered itself Anglo-Catholic, which is a part of the Anglican Communion that has Catholic-like rituals and worship practices.
Back in 2007, the Cathedral of the Incarnation was one of many Anglican churches that, as part of a conservative group called the Traditional Anglican Communion, decided to adopt the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“We at the Cathedral have been using the Catechism for our Adult Forums, each week, for the past three plus years and our folks are very well informed and adhere to the teachings therein,” said Campese.
Father Mark Lewis of St. Luke’s Parish of Bladensburg, Maryland, told a similar story of minor changes for his congregation as they prepare for entering the Ordinariate.
“Not much changed. As an Anglo-Catholic parish we accepted, with few exceptions, all the Catholic Church taught,” said Lewis.
Lewis also said that as his church began the process to become part of the Catholic Church they “ceased using the Anglican Service Book for our worship and began using the Book of Divine Worship.”
“The Book of Divine Worship is the Vatican approved liturgical book used by Anglican Use Parishes in the United States,” said Lewis.
The Anglican Church was created back in the 16th century when King Henry VIII of England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church after being denied an annulment from his first marriage. Initially identical in doctrine and practice, gradually the two became different as the Anglican Church adopted the Book of Common Prayer.
Churches within the Anglican Communion would eventually differentiate themselves via the term “high church” and “low church.” A “high church” congregation is one that focuses more on liturgy and ritual whereas a “low church” congregation is more contemporary in its practices.
Nearly five centuries later, traditional churches once belonging to the Anglican Communion have found themselves at odds with their denomination’s ordination of women and growing tolerance for homosexuality.
While many Anglican Churches decided to break away and form their own conservative sects, some have decided to return to the very church tradition their denomination broke away from back in the days of the Tudor Monarchs.
The first ordinariate, Our Lady of Walsingham, was established for Anglicans in England and Wales on Jan. 15 of this year. Other ordinariates are being considered for Australia and Canada.