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The term "Pastoral Provision", in the context of the Catholic Church in the United States, refers to a set of practices and norms by which bishops are authorized to provide spiritual care for Roman Catholics coming from the Anglican tradition, by establishing parishes for them and ordaining priests from among them.
It allows diocesan bishops to establish personal parishes for former Anglicans, which use liturgical forms that keeps some elements of the Anglican liturgy. Such liturgies are known as Anglican Use forms of the Roman Rite, and include the Book of Divine Worship and Divine Worship: The Missal.
The provision also enables bishops to ordain married former clergy as diocesan priests, when the Holy See grants a dispensation from the usual rule requiring Latin Rite Catholic priests to be celibate (i.e., unmarried).
Since 1981, over 100 ordinations have taken place under the Pastoral Provision, and several personal parishes were established within dioceses. Starting in 2012, most of those parishes were transferred from their dioceses to a new nationwide jurisdiction, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter.
In the article that he has entitled The Pastoral Provision for Roman Catholics in the U.S.A. an account of the origins of this provision, The Reverend Jack D. Barker traces the origins of the demand for such an arrangement to the Oxford Movement in nineteenth-century England and more immediately to developments in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America in the 1970s, when the church changed its canons regarding divorce, refused to take a strong public stand against abortion, ordained women to the diaconate and added a Rite II in contemporary language to the Book of Common Prayer. Some whole parishes began to leave the church.
In 1977, some of those who desired union with the Catholic Church contacted individual Catholic bishops, the Apostolic Delegate Archbishop Jean Jadot and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, to inquire about the possibility for married Anglican priests to be received into the Catholic Church and function as Catholic priests.
In 1979, after the United States National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had reacted favourably to the proposals that had been put before them, a formal request for union was presented in Rome on 3 November for acceptance into the Roman Catholic Church, for steps to be taken to eliminate any defects that might be found in their priestly orders, and that they be granted the oversight, direction, and governance of a Catholic bishop. They offered the allegiance of their whole hearts and minds and souls, and also "with that allegiance the Anglican patrimony that has been ours in so far as it is compatible with, acceptable to and an enhancement of Catholic teaching and worship".
The decision of the Holy See was officially communicated in a letter of 22 July 1980 from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the President of the United States episcopal conference, who published it on 20 August 1980.
Though admittance of the Episcopalians in question to the Catholic Church was considered as reconciliarion of individuals, a pastoral provision or statute gave them a common group identity.
That identity involved the possibility, after a period of being subject to the local Latin Rite bishop, of being granted some distinct type of structure; the use, with the group, but not outside it, of a form of liturgy that retained certain elements of the Anglican liturgy; married Episcopalian priests may be ordained as Catholic priests, but not as bishops.
An Ecclesiastical Delegate, a Catholic and preferably a bishop, was to appointed to oversee the implementation of the decision and to deal with the Congregation.
In March 1981, the Vatican appointed then Most Rev. Bernard Francis Law, then Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau and subsequently Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal, and Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, as the Ecclesiastical Delegate. The Vatican subsequently appointed Most Rev. John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark, to this post in 2003 and Most Rev. Kevin W. Vann, then Bishop of Fort Worth and now Bishop of Orange, to this post in 2011. Rev. William H. Stetson, a priest of the Personal Prelature Opus Dei, is Secretary to the Ecclesiastical Delegate.
The Congregation for Divine Worship gave provisional approval for the group's liturgy, the Book of Divine Worship, in 1984, an approval rendered definitive in 1987. This book incorporates elements of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, but the Eucharistic liturgy is from the 1979 Book, with the Eucharistic Prayers taken from the Roman Missal and the ancient Sarum Rite (with the modern English Words of Institution inserted in the latter).
Concern about ecumenical relations with the Episcopal Church prevented the Archbishop of Los Angeles from authorizing the establishment in his archdiocese of personal parishes of the kind envisaged, in spite of requests from two groups, whose membership exceeded that of any of the groups for which personal parishes were set up in other dioceses. The peititioners were told that they could only be received as members of the existing ordinary Catholic parishes.
The number of personal parishes established is only 7, but, since 1983 over 80 former Anglicans have been ordained for priestly ministry in various Catholic dioceses of the United States.
The Vatican erected the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a jurisdiction canonically equivalent to a diocese, for former Anglicans in the United States and Canada on January 1, 2012, and appointed then-Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson, a married priest ordained under the pastoral provision who formerly had served as the Bishop of the Rio Grande in The Episcopal Church (TEC), as the first "ordinary" of this jurisdiction, subsequently naming him an apostolic protontary (the highest rank of monsignor). The "ordinary" is canonically equivalent to a diocesan bishop, but receives episcopal ordination only if he is celibate. In 2015, the Vatican appointed then-Msgr. Steven Lopes, who was ordained as a bishop at his installation, as the second ordinary of this jurisdiction. The ordinariate has a parallel faculty to process petitions from dispensation from the norm of celibacy for former Anglican and former Protestant clergy, but the "pastoral provision" remains in force for married former Anglican clergy seeking Catholic ordination to serve the local diocese rather than for the ordinariate.
Since at least the early 1950s, former Anglican, Lutheran and other clergy who join the Catholic Church have been granted exceptions to the norm of celibacy, in a practice mentioned in Pope Paul VI's encyclical Sacerdotalis caelibatus of 1967.
Popes going back at least to Pope Pius XII routinely have granted dispensations from the norm of clerical celibacy for ordination of former Anglican and former Protestant clergy, but petitions for such dispensations were relatively few until 1976 when The Episcopal Church (TEC), then known as the Episcopal Church - U. S. A. (ECUSA) voted to confer ordination upon women. At that time Episcopal clergy who could not accept the change -- including several with intact congregations -- sought ordination in the Roman Catholic Church and permission to use a substantially Anglican form of the liturgy. Pope John Paul II responded to these requests by promulgating the so-called "pastoral provision" and establishing an ecclesiastical delegate to facilitate the processing of the relatively sudden surge of requests coming from the United States.
As of November 2012, approximately 70 married men have been ordained as priests under the Pastoral Provision. This number does not include married former Protestant clergy, whose petitions for dispensation from the norm of celibacy continue to go through the normal channels. The majority of married diocesan priests historically have not served as pastors of diocesan parishes, though there are now some exceptions. A few priests work at secular occupations to support their families, but the majority serve in chaplaincies and in teaching or administrative positions.
Outside the United States
The pastoral provision for former Episcopalians is limited to the United States, but in other countries too there are former Anglican clergy who have become married Catholic priests. The Toronto Star reported that in Canada some half dozen married former Anglican priests are ministering in Roman Catholic parishes. One of these, Fr. Rick McKnight, was quoted[who?] as being against lifting priestly celibacy for priests in general. He is a priest on the staff of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Aurora, Ontario, and chaplain at St Basil the Great College School in North York, Ontario.
- Anglican Communion
- Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue
- Anglicanorum coetibus
- Catholic Church hierarchy#Equivalents of diocesan bishops in law
- Clerical celibacy (Catholic Church)
- Continuing Anglican movement
- Forward in Faith
- Paul van K. Thomson
- Personal Ordinariate
- Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter
- Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
- Sacerdotalis caelibatus
- Vincent Nichols
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (March 31, 1981). "Declaration". Retrieved August 1, 2016.
- Fraga, Brian (November 18, 2012). "Understanding married priesthood". Our Sunday Visitor. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
- Personal Parishes of the Pastoral Provision
- The text is available on the website of the Catholic Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Arlington, Texas.
- The Pastoral Provision for Roman Catholics in the U.S.A.
- History of the Pastoral Provision
- Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I
- Letter, II
- Letter, V
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops news release
- Sacerdotalis caelibatus, 42-43
- Document establishing the pastoral provision
- Office of the Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision
- Anglican Use Society
- Book of Divine Worship
- The Order of Mass, Rite 1, according to the Book of Divine Worship
- The Daily Office According to the Anglican Use
- The Catholic Parish of Saint Mary the Virgin, Arlington, Texas
- Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas