October 20, Pope Benedict XVI outlined a process by which Anglicans can enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and still preserve certain elements of their Anglican identity. This official structure will make the process much easier for Anglican priests and parishioners to come into the Catholic Church.
“Personal ordinariates,” which would be similar to dioceses, would be established according to the new apostolic constitution and these would oversee the pastoral care of those who want to bring elements of their Anglican heritage with them. Establishment of the new jurisdictions allows Pope Benedict to respond to “many request” by Anglican groups and individuals, including “20 to 30 bishops.”
Married Anglican priests may be ordained as Catholic priests; however, married Anglican bishops will not be allowed to function as Catholic Bishops. The new process would be similar to Ukrainian or Eastern Rite Catholics, keeping their liturgy and married priests, but not married bishops.
“This is a historic event with great significance and it’s a remarkable day today that this should have come about,” said Fr. Allan Hawkins, a former Anglican minister now a Catholic priest in Arlington, Tex. Fr. Hawkins was received into the Catholic Church along with his entire Episcopal St. Mary the Virgin Church in 1994 under the Pastoral Provision to the Anglican Usage of the Roman Rite. Pope John Paul II created this provision for Anglican parishes in the United States; the new apostolic constitution would apply to Anglicans worldwide. Fr. Hawkins was then ordained as a Catholic priest by Bishop Joseph P. Delaney of Fort Worth. Fr. Hawkins is married and has two grown children.
The ordination of female priests and bishops as well as the acceptance of same-sex blessing has caused many Anglicans to question the authority of the Anglican Church. An Anglican splinter group known as the Traditional Anglican Communion claims it has over 400,000 members in 41 countries after leaving the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1990. The Traditional Anglican Communion has been waiting on reception from Rome.
One of the major theological differences between Anglican belief and Roman Catholic faith is the Catholic belief in transubstantiation, which is the belief that the bread becomes the actual body of Christ during mass. Protestants do not believe in transubstantiation and rather see the wafer or bread to be a symbol of the body of Christ during their communion services.