The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter is a mouthful for the new Catholic bishop that has the pastoral responsibility for Anglicans coming into the Roman Church since permission was granted by Pope Benedict XVI with his establishment of an ordinariate for Anglicans that sought to reunite with the Roman Catholic Church. Most Catholic don’t even know that these three ordinatiates even exist.
In November 2009, in response to these inquiries from Anglican groups worldwide, Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus. This document authorized the creation of “ordinariates” — communities that would be fully Catholic yet retain elements of Anglican heritage and liturgical practice.
On February 4, 2016 Father Stephen Lopes was ordained as the first American Bishop of this very special group of Catholics that are returning to the Catholic Church since the time of King Henry VIII. The request to return to full union with the Catholic Church is really nothing new, there have been movements towards the development of the unique rite within the Catholic Church since Pope Pius XII. It was Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution that made the dream for many Anglicans a reality. In order to integrate the former members of the Anglican Church, they were allowed to uniquely maintain some liturgical and ritual aspects of their former church as part of their reunion with the Church of Rome.
The ordination of Bishop Lopes is especially significant because it shows a willingness on the part of the Holy See to welcome back Anglicans that were forced to leave the Church because of the slit that developed between Rome and Henry VIII over the issue of his divorces and many other theological matters. Pope Benedict’s goal was to restore a sense of unity and continuity in the personal ordinariate that was reflective of the teachings and beliefs of the Catholic Church while remaining sensitive to the traditions of the returning Anglicans to the Roman Church. In a real sense, Benedict’s actions began a process of healing the wounds of the Reformation, centuries after they occurred.
Bishop Lopes represents permanency for the ordinariate in the United States, with the three other similar ordinariates establishes for the returning Anglicans throughout the world. Most importantly it simply says, welcome back and you’re here to stay with your own Bishop.
In the past few decades, clergy of the Anglican Church, along with laity were often with odds regarding the ordination of women as both priests and bishops, the Anglican Church’s views on same-sex marriages, divorce and many other issues of social and theological implications. They sought out a reunion with Catholicism that was more in keeping with the traditional moral and ethical values of these former Anglican clergy and lay faithful. While they indeed have a special uniqueness because of their Anglican character, they are fully Catholic and in communion with the Universal Church of Rome. The reunification of these faithful Catholics is only about five years old, so there are many aspects of the ordinariate that are still developing. Most importantly, they are a sign and symbol of the unified faith that is representative of the Catholic Church throughout the world, but is expressed in a slightly different manner with an appreciation of their Anglican roots.
Welcome home to all of these restored Catholics that are part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter, the entire Church welcomes you back. We are glad you are here and our most joyous congratulations as Bishop Lopes becomes the first American Bishop of this special group of Catholics as he becomes a part of the College of Bishops with Peter as its head.
Ad Multos Annos!
Freelance author, teacher and technology consultant…Hugh McNichol has studied both theology and philosophy at Philadelphia’s Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary and holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. Hugh holds a M.A. in theology from Villanova University and is continuing work towards his doctorate in sacred theology(STD).
His writings promote deeper understanding of the Catholic faith, while hoping to provide topics of good discussion among all Catholics.