Friday, November 13, 2009
by Rev. Dwight Longenecker
Msgr. William Stetson is the secretary of the pastoral provision, the structure provided by Pope John Paul II in 1980 to enable married former Episcopal priests to be ordained as Catholic priests. The pastoral provision also empowers the establishment of "personal parishes" -- groups to which the Church grants special pastoral care (in this case, non-Catholic Christians from the Episcopal Church) -- that follow the Anglican Use liturgy.
The pastoral provision is overseen by an ecclesiastical delegate -- at the time of its institution, then-Bishop Bernard Law. Since 1996, the ecclesiastical delegate has been Archbishop John Myers of Newark. Monsignor Stetson works for the archbishop -- meeting candidates, managing the examination process, and guiding the application for dispensations to Rome.
I interviewed Monsignor Stetson during a retreat for priests of the pastoral provision in Tampa, Florida, this week.
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Father Longenecker: You've been working in this area for more than ten years, and you belong to the Opus Dei prelature. How is the new personal ordinariate different from a personal prelature?
Monsignor Stetson: In the new ordinariate, the faithful will receive all their pastoral care from priests in the ordinariate. In a personal prelature, the faithful normally receive their sacraments and pastoral care from the clergy of their diocesan parishes.
FL: The Anglican personal ordinariate -- who's in? Who can belong?
MS: Former members of the Episcopal/Anglican Church who, at the time of coming into full communion, request in writing to be members of the ordinariate. Also, priests -- married or single -- may request to be part of the ordinariate, and then they may move forward through the selection and discernment process to be ordained as Catholic priests. It is also possible for the faithful who are presently Catholic, but who converted from Anglicanism, to belong to the ordinariate.
FL: What about cradle Catholics who have converted to Anglicanism? Can they belong to the ordinariate?
MS: This touches the question not only of those individuals but also Latin Catholics who wish to belong to the ordinariate for whatever reason. The Apostolic Constitution says that those who were baptized as Catholics outside the ordinariate will not normally belong to the ordinariate, unless they belong to a family that is part of the ordinariate.
See also from CNA, "Fr. Rutler discusses Vatican's Anglican provision."