The Catholic Church has confirmed that its Ordinariate for disaffected Anglicans will be launched in January.
Five former Anglican bishops are to be ordained to the Catholic diaconate and priesthood prior to Lent. They will be responsible for helping other former Anglican clergy to prepare for full communion with the Catholic Church.
The Church plans to put defecting clergy through a “period of intense formation” for ordination as Catholic priests.
Those seeking to join the Ordinariate are expected to be received into the Catholic Church and confirmed at Easter, followed by the ordination of former Anglican priests at Easter.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams told Vatican Radio earlier this week that the issue of “working out shared use of churches” and filling posts left vacant by defecting clergy would be a “challenge” for the Church of England.
Speaking to the media Friday, the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, said that Anglicans joining the Ordinariate would worship in Roman Catholic churches.
He was quoted by Church Times as saying that the Catholic Church was “not seeking to acquire property at all."
“We absolutely respect the ownership of Anglican property,” he said.
There is no clear indication at present of how many Anglicans are planning to make the switch to the Catholic Church, although there are predictions that it will be hundreds.
The five bishops who have already confirmed their departure are the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, the Bishop of Richborough, the Rt Rev Keith Newton, the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Rev John Broadhurst, and retired bishops Edwin Barnes and David Silk.
They will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church in January, the same month as the decree establishing the Ordinariate is expected to be issued.
Catholic dioceses have been asked to contribute at least $400,000 (£250,000) to a fund set up to get the Ordinariate off the ground.