It’s been five years in the making, and this morning the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Orlando, Florida will become Catholic.
At a Mass of Reception at 10:15 a.m. Sunday, September 16, the Cathedral of the Incarnation, which was formerly associated with the Anglican Church of America, will become the Parish of Incarnation—joining about twenty other former Anglican or Episcopal congregations to be accepted in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, the personal ordinariate established as a home for Anglican converts to Catholicism in the United States and Canada.
Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson, a former Episcopal bishop who now leads the Personal Ordinariate, will confirm the parishioners as Catholic during the Sunday service.
Bishop John Noonan, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando, will participate in the liturgy, but the Parish of Incarnation will not become part of Orlando’s diocese. Carol Brinati, spokesperson for the Orlando Diocese, explained, “While we recognize them as part of the Catholic church, they have their own services. We share our beliefs, but everything else is separate.”
The impetus for many former Episcopalians and Anglicans who have sought entry into the Catholic Church has been the increasing liberalization of the Anglican Church—which has in recent years broken with tradition by ordaining women and gays as bishops and accepting homosexual marriage.
In July 1980, Pope John Paul II, responding to requests received from some priests and laity formerly or actually belonging to the Episcopal Church in the United States, had decided to make a special Pastoral Provision for their reception into full communion with the Catholic Church. The Pastoral Provision provided a mechanism by which married, former priests coming from the Episcopal Church could be ordained in the Catholic Church, and personal worship communities could be created which would be allowed to retain elements of the Anglican liturgy.
And in November 2009, Pope Benedict XVI issued the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, an unprecedented invitation for Anglicans to become Catholic in groups or as parishes. Anglicanorum Coetibus established the canonical structure for the personal ordinariates—which serve like dioceses, but which are national in scope. Currently three personal ordinariates have been established: the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (serving the United States and Canada), the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (in England and Wales), and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross (in Autralia).