Friday, October 23, 2009


All I know about it is that it seems like an ecclesiastical structure for flexible dioceses with no geographical boundaries. It is supposed to be called Personal Ordinariates, Personal Ordinates, Personal Ordinarinates,... whatever. Patrick of CMR says he simply cannot say this term three times in a row with a blood alcohol level of .04 or above. On the other hand I simply cannot say it three times in a row without suffering a nosebleed. At any rate, I had to understand what it really means after the Vatican announced that "the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church...".

It's a good thing I had my friend Doctor G. to supply some enlightening information. Here goes.
Apostolic Constitution

First of all, the announcement speaks of the promulgation of an "Apostolic constitution." An Apostolic Consitution is the highest level of decree issued by the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. It will be a formal charter establishing the canonical terms and conditions upon which the "personal ordinariates" which it creates are to come into being and to continue to exist within the Roman Catholic Church. Now as to the personal ordinariates: they are an amalgam of two already existing structures in the canon law of the Church: personal prelatures and military ordinariates.

Personal prelatures and Military Ordinates

A Personal prelature is an institutional structure of the Roman Catholic Church which comprises a prelate, clergy and possibly laity who undertake specific pastoral activities. Personal prelatures, similar to dioceses and military ordinariates, are under the governance of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops. These three types of ecclesiastical structures are composed of lay people served by their own secular clergy and prelate. Unlike dioceses which cover territories, personal prelatures - like military ordinariates - take charge of persons as regards some objectives regardless of where they live. Opus Dei is an example of a personal prelature (and the only one to date), established by Pope John Paul II in November 28, 1982 thru the apostolic constitution Ut Sit. On the other hand, an example of a military ordinariate is the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines or MOP. It has jurisdiction over all military, police and coast guard personnel, their dependents, and the civilian employees of all branches of the armed forces.

Canon Law

Personal prelatures were made a feature of the 1983 Code of Canon Law after they were established by Pope Paul VI following a recommendation by the Second Vatican Council. Canons
294-297 deals with this feature. Here is Cann 294 to wit:

Can. 294 After the conferences of bishops involved have been heard, the
Apostolic See can erect personal prelatures, which consist of presbyters and
deacons of the secular clergy, to promote a suitable distribution of presbyters
or to accomplish particular pastoral or missionary works for various regions
or for different social groups…

So there.
Again we welcome our Anglican brethren to Rome Sweet Rome.
And again from Patrick, here’s the refrain from the ditty ‘Romeward Bound’,
with his apologies to Simon and Garfunkel and Anglicans everywhere.

Romeward bound,
I wish I was,
Romeward bound,
Rome - where TAC's escaping,
Rome - where fear's allaying,
Rome - where my Lord lies waiting,
Patiently for me.

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