|Divine Worship Mass at Westminster Cathedral on January 11, 2016|
Photo: Ordinariate Expats Blog, used by permission.
The question is a recurring one, and I get it quite frequently, so I'll attempt to answer it here. Who can be part of the Ordinariates? By that is meant, who can be part of the Anglican Patrimony Ordinariates? Actually, I think the question is a bit deeper than this. I think what people are really asking is: Can I celebrate the Anglican Patrimony in the Catholic Church? And can I be a part of Ordinariate parishes dedicated to the Anglican Patrimony? So that's what I'll tackle in this essay.
The Anglican Patrimony is defined as those things in Anglican heritage that unite to the Catholic Church. This includes elements of the Book of Common Prayer that were constructed from the old Sarum Use that was used in England prior to the Reformation. It also includes elements of pastoral methods and faithful sensibilities that are attached to England's Catholic roots. The Anglican Patrimony is fully Catholic, and is not in any way affiliated with the Protestant Church of England or the Anglican Communion. In essence, what has happened is this. Rome has re-adopted a liturgical and pastoral heritage that was stolen from her in 1535 when King Henry VIII broke the Church of England away from the Catholic Church. So what we have is the revival of an ancient way of being Catholic that is very traditional and very English. Since the creation of the Ordinariates for former Anglicans (and Methodists), and the promulgation of the Divine Worship liturgy that is commonly used in Ordinariate parishes, there has developed great interest among many within the Catholic faithful as to who can participate and who cannot. I will attempt to give the most concise answer here.
First and foremost, any Catholic layman may pray the Office of the Church according to the Anglican Patrimony. It doesn't matter if you're diocesan or not part of the Ordinariate. Any Catholic layman can do it. This is called the Daily Office, and it is similar to the Divine Office (Roman Breviary) or Liturgy of the Hours (LOTH). Think of it as an older English form of these things. Currently, we are waiting on Rome to approve the final text of the Daily Office for official publication, but while we're waiting, any Catholic layman can lawfully view and participate in praying it by simply visiting the Covert Prayer Website, run by John Covert, HERE. You can do it privately on your own, or by logging in and doing it with a group online. Ordinariate clergy have their own (identical) text to use in this interim period while we're waiting on Rome. General Roman diocesan clergy cannot use this form of the Office at this time, but that may change in the future.
Second, any Catholic layman or clergyman may attend, or assist, a Divine Worship Ordinariate mass. There are no exceptions here. It is a third-form of the Roman Rite. The Sunday obligation may be kept using this form. Any Catholic may join. It doesn't matter if you're diocesan or non-Ordinariate. Come on in. The water is fine, and I think you'll like it.
Third, any Catholic layman may regularly attend an Ordinariate parish or community.
Fourth, any Catholic layman may become a member of an Ordinariate parish or community, without becoming a member of the Ordinariate. Ordinariate parishes are just like diocesan parishes in this sense. Any Catholic can attend one and become a member. If you're not a member of the Ordinariate however, your diocesan bishop remains your regular bishop. That means you can still participate fully in the life of the Ordinariate parish or community, but when it comes to particular diocesan rules, you're still under the jurisdiction of your diocesan bishop.
Fifth, any Catholic with an Anglican or Methodist background is eligible to become a member of the Ordinariate. Any Catholic who has an immediate family member in the Ordinariate is eligible to become a member of the Ordinariate. Any non-Catholic can join the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate and become an Ordinariate member that way. Generally speaking, the only restrictions that apply to Ordinariate membership apply to Catholics only. Any Non-Catholic may join the Church through the Ordinariate and thereby become an Ordinariate member. However, the restrictions that apply to Catholics are often more generous than what is publicly announced. So if there is any doubt, the best thing to do is fill out an application and see what happens.
Sixth, any Catholic who is found to be ineligible for Ordinariate membership can still be "affiliated" with the Ordinariate. Affiliation is not a canonical jurisdiction, so you keep your diocesan bishop, but it is a recorded connection to the Ordinariate. Which means you'll be kept abreast on the latest things, and remain connected to the life of the Ordinariate.
Seventh, any Catholic (regardless of affiliation or jurisdiction) may become a member of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society (ACS). This organisation is dedicated to the promotion and expansion of the Anglican Patrimony both within and outside the Ordinariates. Membership can be obtained HERE.
I hope this clears things up a bit.
Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com -- Helping Bible Christians Discover the Apostolic Faith.'