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Ordinariate decree is made public

The full text of the Vatican decree establishing the world’s first ordinariate was made public today.

Issued by Cardinal William Levada, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the document officially sets up the ordinariate as a structure which juridically resembles a diocese.

Pope Benedict XVI officially appointed Fr Keith Newton to be the Ordinary of the ordinariate on Saturday at his ordination Mass.

The decree of erection establishes that the Ordinary will sit on the bishops’ conference and has a right to vote, including on financial questions. When the ordinariate is up and running Fr Newton, together with his governing council, which must consist of at least six priests, can decide on further norms and governing rules for the ordinariate which then must be approved by the CDF.

It also states that clergy outside the ordinariate who wish to assist at a marriage of members of the ordinariate must receive the faculty from either the Ordinary or the parish priest.

The decree said: “For a cleric not incardinated in the personal ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham to assist at a marriage of the faithful belonging to the Ordinariate, he must receive the faculty from the Ordinary or the pastor of the personal parish to which the faithful belong.”

The new document also explained what happened to registered members of the ordinariate if they were to move to another country or simply wanted to leave the ordinariate all together.

The decree said: “If a member of the faithful moves permanently into a place where another personal ordinariate has been erected, he is able, on his own request, to be received into it. The new Ordinary is bound to inform the original personal ordinariate of the reception.

“If a member of the faithful wishes to leave the ordinariate, he must make such a decision known to his own Ordinary. He automatically becomes a member of the diocese where he resides. In this case, the Ordinary will ensure that the diocesan bishop is informed.”

The decree reiterates a number of points outlined in the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus. People who wish to join the ordinariate must express their interest in writing and former Anglican clergy who have already become Catholic priests can also become members of the new structure.