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Pope Benedict establishes world’s first ordinariate

Pope Benedict at the Wednesday weekly Audience (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Benedict XVI formally established the world’s first personal ordinariate for groups of Anglicans today.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued a Decree of Erection which officially founds an ordinariate in England and Wales. It will be known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, under the protection of Blessed John Henry Newman. The Ordinary, or head, of the ordinariate will be Fr Keith Newton.

On Thursday three former Anglican bishops – Keith Newton, Andrew Burnham and John Broadhurst – were incardinated into the English and Welsh ordinariate when they were ordained deacons at Allen Hall seminary in London. They were ordained priests this morning at Westminster Cathedral.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who was the chief celebrant at the Mass of ordination, said earlier this week: “This is a unique moment and the Catholic community of England and Wales is privileged to be playing its part in this historic development in the life of the universal Church.

“We offer a warm welcome to these three former bishops of the Church of England. We welcome those who wish to join them in full communion with the Pope in the visible unity of the Catholic Church. We recognise the journey they are making with its painful departures and its uncertainties. We salute their depth of searching prayer and the desire which leads them to seek to live within the community of the Catholic Church under the ministry of the Bishop of Rome. This is a faith we share.”

Members of the ordinariate will be fully fledged Catholics of the Roman Rite. Ordinariate priests will be able to celebrate Mass freely in Catholic churches and Catholics attending ordinariate Masses will be able to receive Communion there.