Revised norms for the Ordinariate

On 9th April, the Vatican issued two documents in relation to the updating of the norms governing the personal ordinariates of the Roman Catholic Church – Our Lady of Walsingham in England*, the Chair of Saint Peter in the United States of America, and Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia.

Personal Ordinariates

In 2009 Benedict XVI signed the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus on the institution of personal Ordinariates for Anglicans who enter into full communion with the Catholic Church: this was in response to requests from some Anglican groups who wished to be received, also corporately, in full Catholic communion. As a consequence, between 2011 and 2012 three Ordinariates were established:

The Explanatory Note  draws heavily on an article in “L’Osservatore Romano” (Italian version, 9th April) by Nicola Gori entitled Un aggiornamento necessario, “A necessary update”. Below are extracts relating to specific Articles within the new Apostolic Constitution.

  • “the 2009 constitution provides general norms, integrated with complementary norms. During the ten years that have passed since its publication, some suggestions and theological indications have been received, both ecumenical and in relation to canon law, to make the application of the provisions more consistent with the spirit of the Apostolic Constitution. This led to a new version of these norms, decided by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope Francis on 8 March this year”.
  • “in Article 4, where reference is made to the Ordinariate which has the faculty of incardinating into the Ordinariate the Anglican ministers who have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church, in the revised complementary provisions particular reference is made to those who are already incardinated in a diocese by virtue of the Pastoral Provision and the candidates belonging to the Ordinariate promoted by him to the Sacred Orders”. In addition, “clerics who are about to be incardinated in the Ordinariate must be uncardinated from their original dioceses”.

[The Pastoral Provision, authorized by Saint John Paul II, was created in 1980 in the United States of America to receive married former Anglican priests in the Catholic ordained ministry.]

  • “With regard to the faithful of the Ordinariate…Article 5, the new Complementary Norms specify the case of a person who has been validly baptized in another ecclesial community outside the Catholic Church…When such a person expresses the wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, thanks to the efforts and the evangelizing mission of the Ordinariate, he may be admitted and belong to the Ordinariate from the moment in which he enters into full communion and receives the sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist. Furthermore, it should be underlined that this is applied also to those who have not been validly baptized, but who again thanks to the evangelizing action of the Ordinariate have discovered the faith so as to receive all the sacraments of initiation”.
  • “In Article 10, regarding the clergy…[w]hile in previous paragraph 2, it was specified that the ‘candidates may receive other aspects of priestly formation at a seminary program or house of formation established, with the consent of the Governing Council, expressly for the purpose of transmitting Anglican patrimony’. In the new Complementary Norms, the same paragraph 2 states that “Ordinariate Seminarians will receive their theological formation with other seminarians at a seminary or theological faculty in agreement with the Diocesan Bishop or Bishops concerned”. By adding that such candidates ‘may receive other aspects of priestly formation’, the norm is simplified and adapted to current needs.”

“… in Article 10, regarding the clergy, in paragraph 5 it is added that the Ordinariate, for the purpose of the continuing formation of its clergy, will promote participation both “in local programs for formation provided by the Episcopal Conference and the Diocesan Bishop” and “in their own programs of ongoing formation”.

  • In the new Complementary Norms, an entire article has been added, number 15, dedicated to the celebration of Divine Worship. It is acknowledged that the Missal proper to the personal Ordinariates, entitled “Divine Worship”, namely the form approved by the Holy See for use by the Ordinariate, expresses and preserves for Catholic worship “the worthy Anglican liturgical patrimony, understood as that which has nourished the Catholic faith throughout the history of the Anglican tradition and prompted aspirations towards ecclesial unity”.

The Explanatory Note states that this is the reason for the emphasis that public liturgical worship following Divine Worship is limited to the personal Ordinariates, as established by the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. Gori. explains “Any priest incardinated in the Ordinariate is authorized to celebrate using Divine Worship. This applies outside the parishes of the Ordinariate when the priest celebrates Mass without the participation of the faithful, and also publicly with the permission of the rector or parish priest of the church or of the parish concerned.

Furthermore, when pastoral needs demand it, or in the absence of a priest incardinated in an Ordinariate, if requested, any priest incardinated in the diocese or in an institute of consecrated life or of a society of apostolic life can celebrate in accordance with Divine Worship for the members of the Ordinariate. Finally, it is granted to any priest incardinated in the diocese or in an institute of consecrated life or in a society of apostolic life to concelebrate following Divine Worship”.


A review of the revised norms was carried by the Catholic News Agency.

Documents issued on 9th April

* Although the Explanatory Note refers to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England, its web site indicates that Wales and Scotland are included: “Scotland is in the [English] South East Deanery at the request of the Co-ordinating Pastor, London being the most convenient centre in England (transport-wise) from all parts of Scotland.”

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Revised norms for the Ordinariate" in Law & Religion UK, 10 April 2019,

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