What's in a Name?

Divine Worship Mass
Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas

What are we to do? It seems eight years following Pope Benedict XVI's landmark apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, Catholics in the ordinariates it created still can't decide what to call themselves. On the one hand, we have some within the ordinariates who want to jettison all things associated with the word "Anglican." On the other hand, we have some within the ordinariates who want to specifically identify themselves as "Anglican Catholics." If you'll indulge me for a moment, I'd like to weigh in with my own two-cents. I am by no means any kind of authority on the matter, but I think when it comes to this topic, everyone's opinion counts.

First and foremost, I think a lot of this comes from England, and specifically some diocesan Catholics in England, who are not entirely convinced that members of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are really Catholic. It's a very unfair mischaracterisation and should be abandoned as soon as possible. Monsignor Newton has briefly mentioned this in passing in a recent interview he gave to the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society...

Now I personally believe this poor attitude among some diocesan Catholics (particularly in England) has led to a backlash wherein some ordinariate Catholics have sought to drop the word "Anglican" entirely from their vocabulary when it comes to referencing themselves. At the same time, however, the Holy See has discouraged ordinariate Catholics from using the word "Anglican" in reference to themselves precisely because it does create confusion for diocesan Catholics. In truth, Rome has a good point. Those of us in the ordinariates ceased to be Anglican the moment we entered into full-communion with the Catholic Church, and in fact, we became Catholics. We are very much a part of the Roman Rite (or Latin Rite) even though our liturgical heritage (which Rome has allowed us to keep) is very Anglican in character.

I think the solution is a rather simple one actually. In reference to ourselves, we are simply "Roman Catholics of the Anglican Patrimony." There is no need to jettison the word "Anglican" from our vocabulary entirely, but rather, we should focus on using it properly. The word "Anglican" appears in our founding constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus (meaning "Groups of Anglicans"). It appears again as the term "Anglican Patrimony" under Paragraph VI, Article 5 of said constitution. So the term "Anglican" cannot be said to be erased from our vocabulary or identity. It is rather just reordered. We are not "Anglican Catholics" as if there were some kind of identity apart from Roman Catholics. Rather, we are Roman Catholics who observe the Anglican Patrimony.

There is a common shorthand leftover from the pre-ordinariate days called "Anglican-Use" which again we have been discouraged from using because (it is said) it creates confusion among regular diocesan Catholics. (I'm not sure I agree with that.) As of this date, Wikipedia still defines the Anglican-Use as follows: "The Anglican Use refers to the form of liturgy found in the Book of Divine Worship and its successor, Divine Worship: The Missal, used by the parishes of the Pastoral Provision in the United States and the personal ordinariates founded by former members of the Anglican Communion who joined the Catholic Church while wishing to maintain some features of Anglican tradition... With the promulgation of Divine Worship: The Missal for use beginning 29 November 2015, the Book of Divine Worship has begun to be phased out; the term "Anglican Use" remains in common use to describe the liturgy authorized for use by former Anglicans." (source)

Of course, there is always the temptation to use such shorthand in reference to us, not only among our own but also among regular diocesan Catholics around us. Here in the Ozarks, the term "Anglican-Form" was coined by a local parish administrator and it stuck in the Springfield region. I believe this was a nod to the "Ordinary-Form" and "Extraordinary-Form" terminology developed by Pope Benedict XVI around the same time. I believe it would be somewhat acceptable to use the term "Anglican-Form Catholics" in reference to us, but only if it's well understood that we are fully Catholics and still part of the Roman Rite. But if we're going to go that route, the term "Anglican-Use Catholics" would be just as fitting.

Personally, I am partial to the term "Catholics of the Anglican Patrimony" or "Anglican-Patrimony Catholics" as it clearly makes the distinction that we are Catholics, and we observe the Anglican Patrimony, without confusing the two. This could be further developed by using the terms "Anglican Patrimony" and "Roman Patrimony" more frequently to distinguish between Divine Worship and the Roman missals. Catholics who regularly worship in diocesan parishes are celebrating the Roman Patrimony, either the new or old form of that missal. While Catholics who regularly worship in ordinariate parishes are celebrating the Anglican Patrimony (Divine Worship) with actual membership in the ordinariates notwithstanding since not everyone who worships in an ordinariate parish is a member of the ordinariate.

I really don't think what we're looking for here is a designation of identity, so much as it is a designation of worship form. We're all Catholics. Some of us follow the Roman Patrimony (either old or new, ordinary or extraordinary), and some of us follow the Anglican Patrimony (Divine Worship) and all the things associated with it.

Of course, the term ordinariate is just a designation of jurisdiction. There is nothing more to it, and not all ordinariates are related to the Anglican Patrimony. For example; the military ordinariate is quite Roman, but it is an ordinariate nonetheless. These days the military ordinariate refers to itself as an "archdiocese," perhaps to reduce confusion for some Catholics who don't know what an ordinariate is, but it is still very much an ordinariate. Occasionally, I'll use the terms "ordinariate Catholics" and "diocesan Catholics" (as I have here in this essay) to draw a distinction in the jurisdiction but nothing more than that. For any ordinariate Catholic can celebrate the Roman Patrimony, just as any diocesan Catholic can celebrate the Anglican Patrimony. Membership in the ordinariate serves a very practical function and is not in itself a designation of identity or liturgical form. A good number of ordinariate Catholics have no access to Divine Worship and must worship in a diocesan parish using the Roman Patrimony. Likewise, a good number of diocesan Catholics choose to worship in ordinariate parishes, either for convenience or preference, and celebrate the Anglican Patrimony even though they have no juridic connection to the ordinariate. So the use of the terms "ordinariate Catholic" and "diocesan Catholic" breaks down if you are trying to come up with an identifying moniker. Furthermore, a growing number of diocesan Catholics, born and raised in the Roman Patrimony, are finding a personal attachment to the Anglican Patrimony, just as a good number of ordinariate Catholics find themselves attached to the Roman Patrimony (one of the two missals).

In truth, Catholics who celebrate the Anglican Patrimony are just Catholics -- period. There really is no adjective that should describe us as different or unique. We're just Catholics. Because we come from Anglicanism we have been allowed to bring our Anglican Patrimony with us, and this is to be shared with the whole Catholic Church. It is "ours" in that we bring it as a gift into the Church, but it is not "ours" in the sense that nobody else can participate. Any Catholic is welcome to join us in Divine Worship as well as other aspects of the Anglican Patrimony.

The creation of the ordinariates by Anglicanorum Coetibus was not to create an "exclusive club" just for Anglican converts, and it certainly wasn't to create a "ghetto" to marginalise us either. Rather, it was created to allow a juridic "space" wherein the Anglican Patrimony would be able to flourish and grow. Without such a juridic space the Anglican Patrimony would be at the mercy of regular diocesan priests and bishops who could implement it, or deny it, at will. Experience tells us, that with few exceptions (particularly in the United States), most diocesan bishops are more inclined to discourage the use of various forms of liturgy and prefer uniformity in worship. The necessity of creating Summorum Pontificum for the purpose of allowing Catholics attached to the old (Extraordinary-Form) mass demonstrates the tendency of what usually happens. Bishops generally don't like to deal with special liturgical requests if they don't have to. This is mainly because they really don't have the time for it. Sometimes it's a matter of prejudice, but mostly it's just a matter of practicality. Not until forced to provide the old mass again, by Summorum Pontificum, were most bishops willing to do it, and even then it was grudgingly for some. If the Anglican Patrimony were put into a similar situation, it would quickly die out in the Church. Therefore, the creation of the ordinariates was necessary simply to provide the juridic "space" for the Anglican Patrimony to flourish and grow. Calling somebody an "ordinariate Catholic" outside of reference solely to juridic affiliation makes no sense whatsoever, and shouldn't be used except for that one specific case.

So we are Catholics, and that's all we are. Some Catholics worship according to the Anglican Patrimony and other Catholics worship according to the Roman Patrimony. Where they come from, and their juridic affiliation, is much less important. There is no such thing as an "Anglican Catholic" and there never was. I've heard of some people outside of the Catholic Church using that moniker, but alas, they're outside of the Catholic Church, so it doesn't really matter.


Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books and a columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com.' Your support is what makes essays like this possible. This essay and all of Shane's Internet resources come to you (ad-free) thanks to the generosity of benefactors. Please consider becoming a benefactor.

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Not being English I have no personal stake or expertise in the naming process however, as one whose discipline is history a couple of things are apparent. The Catholic Church in England never really ceased to exist. It continued after 1535. It was the schismatic church of Henry VIII that ceased to exist after Edward VI, through Cromwell, protestantised it. I personally don't think it appropriate to have two Churches of English patrimony any more than we have Polish, German, Irish etc., parishes in the US. We simply refer to the Church in the US as American Catholic church as a way of distinguishing it from Churches in other countries. The simple moniker of English Catholic should be broad enough to cover all in union with Rome regardless of the missal they use or the attendant prayers at mass.
Aaron said…
There has to be a better term than the classical liberal idea of "juridical space". Surely we do not want to see the Catholic Church in the image of Lockian social contract theory. I have not thought through the nature and relationship of distinct patrimonies within the Catholic Church, so I do not want to say too much or make too much of what might have been a throw away line, but what would it mean to think through the term "patrimony" itself, which implies fatherhood and gift, on the one hand, and receptivity and inheritance on the other. "Patrimony" speaks of a natural relation which bears fruit from generation to generation, something given and something received, and this compared to the purely legal and sterile "relation" of juridical space. A patrimony within the Catholic Church would pass on its unique heritage as both a sign of its fruitfulness and in order to share that fruit with the whole Church; a "juridical space" might allow a community a certain "freedom" to do as it wants without being infringed upon from the outside but it also assumes a constitutive autonomy between the community and others outside of it and because of this even sees others as a potential threat to the "freedom" of the community or in this case, to the patrimony.

I am just spit balling here. I'm sure there's much more to be thought and said. Thanks for all the work you do promoting the Anglican Patrimony of the Catholic Church. It's truly appreciated.