July 22, 2013

Pope Francis has given the personal ordinariates for former Anglicans a wider opportunity for evangelizing by allowing "uncatechized," yet baptized, Catholics to join their communities.

While lifelong, active Catholics were always welcome to attend its Masses, the ordinariate was established in 2009 for communities of former Anglicans who joined the Catholic Church.

It was not open to people who were baptized Catholic, unless they were close family members of former Anglicans who became Catholic.

However, Pope Francis approved a significant modification to that rule to allow baptized Catholics who have not received all the sacraments of initiation and who return to the practice of the faith due to the evangelizing activity of the ordinariate to be admitted to membership in the ordinariate.

Catholics still may not become members of a personal ordinariate "for purely subjective motives or personal preference," according to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, head of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter for former Anglicans in the United States and Canada, said he welcomed the new development because it permits the group to reach out to unchurched people "who are seekers of truth."

Bringing the Gospel to all people, "thus becomes more and more the heart of our work," he said.