Friday, October 21, 2005

The Anglican Use: Archbishop Myers of Newark is the new Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision

I received this article this morning but without a citation. Although I don't know the ultimate source, I do trust the one who sent it to me. So herewith:

Archbishop John J. Myers, who last month met with Pope Benedict XVI for the first time since Benedict was elected, has been appointed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome as Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision for admitting married former Anglican clergy to the Catholic priesthood in the United States. In this post, which reports to Archbishop William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation, Archbishop Myers will work with all bishops in the United States to oversee the processes by which Anglican/Episcopalian clergy who wish to convert to Catholicism can be ordained as Catholic priests. Previously, the post of Ecclesiastical Delegate had been held by former Boston Archbishop Bernard Cardinal Law.

In speaking of the appointment, Archbishop Myers stated: "The purpose of the Provision is to allow a pastoral way for the Church to welcome those men who wish to enter fully into the Catholic faith and continue in ministry, but because of the tradition they had been following, they would not normally have been welcomed. I'm grateful that the Holy Father and Archbishop Levada have placed their trust in me to assist in welcoming these men into the Church, and to work with my brother bishops on this delicate but important service."

In 1980, Pope John Paul II, in response to requests from priests and laity of the Episcopal Church who were seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, made possible the ordination of married Episcopal priests, and also authorized the establishment of personal parishes in dioceses of the United States. Since 1983, some 78 former Episcopalian priests have been ordained for priestly ministry in Catholic dioceses of the United States. Seven personal parishes - five in Texas, and one each in Massachusetts and South Carolina - have also been formed. These parishes retain certain liturgical elements proper to the Anglican tradition, yet they are Catholic. This practice is similar to that extended to Eastern Rite Churches that recognize papal authority, but continue to worship according to their ancient liturgical traditions. The parishes submit to the authority of the local bishop in the diocese where they are located.

Ordination to Catholic priesthood does not come immediately for men who have petitioned under the Pastoral Provision. If accepted as candidates, each man must receive theological, spiritual and pastoral preparation for ministry in the Catholic Church.

In the United States, there currently are three men in process for ordination. Rome is now considering the request of another four. Six others have made inquiries about the Pastoral Provision through local bishops in the United States.

The Archdiocese of Newark is not only the center for the Pastoral Provision activities in the United States, it is the home of one man undergoing this process of training for Catholic priesthood. Alvin Kimel, formerly pastor of St. Mark's Parish, Jonestown, PA, was accepted this past summer as a candidate under the Provision. He and his wife, Christine, are living in Hillside as he serves as campus minister at Kean University in Elizabeth. In the meantime, he is pursuing preparation for eventual ordination if his petition is favorably received by the Holy Father.

Some would believe that the institution of the Provision, and the ordination of married Episcopalian priests, should signal a change in the Church's tradition of mandatory celibacy. The National Catholic Register this past summer posed this question to both Episcopalians who have converted and been ordained, and well as Catholic scholars. The sense is that celibate clergy will remain the norm.

"It's a pastoral response to the situation of an Episcopal priest who came to the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church," said Father William Stetson, the Washington, D.C.-based priest who handles applications for ordination under the provision in the United States, and who will coordinate the process with Archbishop Myers. One priest who recently was ordained under the Provision expressed that he wanted only to become fully Catholic. He felt that God was merciful to allow this to happen, and that his ordination was very much an exception to the rule. He also cautioned that the presence of married Episcopalian priests should not become a means to chip away at the gift of celibacy or other issues that at times rankle some Catholics.

When I do find out from whence it cometh I'll put the link here.

ADDENDUM: And here it is on the Newark Archdiocesan newspaper's website. (Same day service!) Thanks to JB and the AU mail list.