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As we continue to look at the liturgical provision of the personal ordinariates in Divine Worship: The Missal, here we will focus on the decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, by which the missal received approval from the Apostolic See. Whilst the decree has the formal tone appropriate to a legal text, it also bears our consideration as a source for understanding not just the liturgical provision for the personal ordinariates but, by extension, something about the overall intention of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum cœtibusand the structures, mission, and life of the personal ordinariates.

Question of Competence

To begin, it is worth considering the role of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in the preparation of these liturgical rites. First we can recall that Anglicanorum cœtibus states that the personal ordinariates are subject to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (AC II). As the ordinaries of the personal ordinariates exercise their power vicariously, that is in the name of the Roman Pontiff in a manner distinct from the proper power of a diocesan bishop, the role of oversight on behalf of the Holy Father is entrusted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by the provisions of Anglicanorum cœtibus (AC V). This is the case even should the ordinary be in episcopal orders.

However, the constitution goes on to say that the other dicasteries of the Roman Curia are also to have a role in the life of the jurisdictions, “in accordance with their competencies.” In those instances where another dicastery of the Roman Curia has competence in law, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith remains involved—as seen in the Interdicasterial Commission Anglicanæ tradtiones that compiled the Divine Worship texts—but the other dicastery has a primary role.

With regard to the promulgation of new liturgical texts, this task is delegated to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by Article 64 of the apostolic constitution, Pastor bonus. This states that the congregation “sees to the drawing up and revision of liturgical texts” (Art. 64 §2). As we have said, a degree of collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is presumed by the apostolic constitution, and in the case of the preparation of the liturgical books the doctrinal questions that understandably arose from studying the liturgical texts of a non-Catholic ecclesial community, necessitated the involvement of the doctrine congregation. A useful parallel here is found with regard to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity which, “in matters which by their very nature touch on questions of faith”, according to Pastor Bonus, “must proceed in close connection with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

Due to the desire to preserve the Anglican liturgical patrimony, and not simply formulate new liturgical texts ex nihilo, this twofold focus on liturgy and doctrine in the preparation of Divine Worship, is indicated in the decree: “Aware that authentic Catholic worship in Spirit and truth has always found expression in diverse forms, this Congregation [for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments], together with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, drawing from various Anglican sources and from the current Roman Missal, has prepared this text for the celebration of the Mass in the Personal Ordinariates.” As we have already noted, this was seen in practice in the collaboration between these two departments of the Roman Curia in the Interdicasterial Commission Anglicanæ traditiones.

Liturgical Ecumenism

Returning to the text of the decree, we see in the first paragraph the principle for the liturgical provision clearly outlined. First, we read of the desire of Pope Benedict XVI “to heal the wounds of division in the Body of Christ”, emphasizing the ecumenical impetus that is at the heart of the ordinariate project. This sentiment is found in the homily given by Pope Benedict the Sistine Chapel immediately after his election to the papacy: “Concrete gestures that enter hearts and stir consciences are essential, inspiring in everyone that inner conversion that is the prerequisite for all ecumenical progress.” Divine Worship: The Missal, we might say, embodies the “concrete gesture” of establishing the personal ordinariates, and thus can be seen as a constitutive element of the desire, at the heart of Anglicanorum cœtibus, to build a bridge between Anglicans and Catholics, in order to “set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion.” If the personal ordinariates are “realized ecumenism”, then the decree before us seeks to place the liturgical texts of Divine Worship at the very centre of their mission.

Treasure Preserved

Anglicanorum cœtibus speaks of the personal ordinariates as possessing “the faculty to celebrate . . . according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See.” The decree describes this as the rationale for “the preparation of liturgical books that draw from the Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony.” Together with Divine Worship: The Missal, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has also promulgated an order for baptism, an order for holy matrimony, and an order for funerals, all of which represent in a substantial way the approval of integral liturgical rites from the Anglican tradition, within the full communion of the Catholic Church. There have also been approved a liturgical calendar for each personal ordinariate, an Ordo Missæ (approved independently of the missal to allow the communities of the personal ordinariates to establish a distinctive liturgical life early on), and a lectionary, using the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition translation of sacred scripture. All of these represent, in a tangible way, the preservation of the Anglican liturgical patrimony in the Catholic Church “as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.” The presence of texts and translations from the Anglican liturgical tradition in Divine Worship: The Missal also embodies this central principle of Anglicanorum cœtibus.

Unity and Diversity

The decree introduces the notion of liturgical diversity as a positive ground for the promulgation of the liturgical texts of Divine Worship. Within Anglicanism, the diversity of liturgical provision has been the cause of dissent and theological confusion (for example, the debates surrounding the proposed 1928 Book of Common Prayer in England, and the 1979 Book of Common Prayer in the United States). However, such concerns are often superficial in Catholic circles. The clarity and consistency of the Church’s teaching means that there can be no true distinction between the law of prayer (lex orandi) and the law of belief (lex credendi).

As we have noted elsewhere, the notion of the unity of the faith in a legitimate diversity of expression, is a central feature of the thought and writings of Pope Benedict XVI. As Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, “Fostering a unity that does not obstruct diversity, and acknowledging and fostering a diversification that does not obstruct unity but rather enriches it, is a fundamental task of the Roman Pontiff for the whole Church.” And speaking of the ordinariates in which he put this principle into practice, he said: “a spiritual richness exists in the different Christian denominations which is an expression of the one faith and a gift to share and to seek together in the Tradition of the Church.” Thus “drawing from various Anglican sources and from the current Roman Missal”, as the decree puts it, Divine Worship represents an enrichment for the whole Church, not because it adds anything in essence, but because it gives voice to the one faith of Christ, albeit in a different and distinctive register and language; one that has encouraged many Anglicans to pursue full ecclesial communion individually and corporately over the centuries since their separation from full communion.

Source and Sources

In that same paragraph of the decree we note another important principle that undergirds the development of Divine Worship and is worthy of mention here. This is the understanding that the sources for the liturgical provision of the personal ordinariate are taken from the Anglican tradition and the post-conciliar Missale Romanum. This fact does not weaken the significance of the inclusion of certain prayers and rituals common to the older form of the Roman Rite (i.e., the Extraordinary Form),  in terms of the wider influence of Divine Worship on the wider Roman Rite. It does make clear, however, that the presence of these elements is, primarily, an expression of the liturgical provision preserved within Anglican communities, and only secondarily a contribution to the ongoing liturgical dialogue in the wider Latin Church. To be sure, mutual enrichment is a vital element of Anglicanorum cœtibus, but this hierarchy is important to understand in examining certain texts and “choices” in the Divine Worship provision. To be sure, the celebration of Divine Worship may reflect more closely the pre-conciliar form of the Roman Rite, but the principal reason for Divine Worship is to preserve, maintain, and promote, the liturgical heritage of the Anglican tradition for those who find their ecclesial home in the personal ordinariates.

Legitimate Adaption

Finally, then, we come to Divine Worship as a legitimate adaptation of the Roman Rite, a phrase we find in the decree itself. On the front page of the missal we find this spelled out as Divine Worship is described as “In accordance with the Roman Rite.” This is of real significance. The identification of Divine Worship in this way not only places it within the broader liturgical tradition of the Latin Church, thereby ensuring the distinction between an Anglican liturgical rite and a promulgated Catholic liturgical rite that is Anglican in origin, but it is also emphasizes that Divine Worship comprises the proper liturgical rites for the personal ordinariates, which find their liturgical roots in the Roman liturgy, but the particular expression of that noble tradition in the pages of Divine Worship. The promulgation of the decree on the feast of Saint Augustine of Canterbury this year makes this same point, albeit in a subtler way, and we can conclude by recalling the words of Pope Saint Gregory the Great to Saint Augustine, recalled by the Venerable Bede: “Therefore select from each of the Churches whatever things are devout, religious, and right; and when you have arranged them into a unified rite, let the minds of the English grow accustomed to it.”


Despite its legal character and nature, the decree promulgating Divine Worship: The Missal is nevertheless a source worthy of our study as we seek to understand more fully the nature of the liturgical provision of the personal ordinariates, and their wider mission and purpose. To comprehend the mind of the Church requires, necessarily, the consideration of her legal and liturgical texts, by which she expresses her means to serve and proclaim Christ. Here we find, again, much to ponder.

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