There is no obvious discrimination against former TAC members and clergy

Despite what some bloggers might like to suggest, I believe there is absolutely no evidence for a difference in treatment between former members of Anglican Communion churches and former members of the TAC and other continuing churches. All are equal members of the Ordinariates and there is really no interest in quoting someone’s “pedigree” every time his or her name is mentioned. Mgr. Newton at least has made this quite specifically clear.

In her blog, Deborah Gyapong asked the following questions:

“Ordination before formation or formation after ordination?

Maybe some of my informed readers can help me out on this.  Are there different policies concerning the formation of incoming Ordinariate clergy, depending on the country?

For instance, in the United States, what has been the length of time required ahead of ordination for clergy?  In the United Kingdom?  In Australia?”

I should like to quote a reply from “Norm” and then my own comment:

“Rev22:17 says:


…  Prior to the late 1970′s, the numbers of former Anglican (and former Lutheran) clergy who sought ordination in the Catholic Church were few so their formation for Catholic ordination was more or less ad hoc under the direction of their bishops.  Two significant developments in the 1970′s changed that.

>>  1.  There was a general recognition by the magisterium of the Catholic Church that many seminaries were not providing adequate formation for ordained ministry.  As a result, the magisterium, operating at various levels, established new standards for seminary formation that began to take effect around 1980.

>>  2.  The 1977 decision of the Episcopal Church – U. S. A. (ECUSA), now known as The Episcopal Church (TEC), to ordain women drove many orthodox clergy to flee that body, and many of those departing then sought ordination in the Catholic Church.  Pope John Paul II responded to this development with the so-called “Pastoral Provision” and appointment of an “Apostolic Delegate” to facilitate the process.

The convergence of these developments gave rise to the establishment of a more or less standard program of formation for former Anglican clergy seeking ordination in the Catholic Church, building upon their previous formation in the Anglican Communion, that normally takes about two years.  The normal practice is for Catholic ordination to come at the end of the program of formation.  Alas, in 1983, the case of Fr. Christopher Phillips, who brought a congregation (now the “Anglican Use” Parish of Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, Texas) with him, required an exception:  there was a need to ordain him as expeditiously as possible so he could resume his role as pastor of that congregation.  Thus, he completed most of the program of formation after his Catholic ordination.  This obviousy set a precedent for the handful of former Anglican clergy who came to the Catholic Church with congregations, though probably with some adjustment based on the experience of the previous cases. (Fr. Phillips has subsequently corrected this: “To summarize: my formation and examinations at Catholic University all took place before my ordination.”)

The ordinariates are undoubtedly building on the experience of the pastoral provision, but they are working with (1) much larger numbers of former Anglican clergy and congregations and (2) clergy coming from “Continuing Anglican” bodies, some of whom have not completed the full program of seminary formation of the Anglican Communion.  Here, the initial wave of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and the first group of clergy for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter seem to have followed the same basic pattern, consisting of an academic semester of formation before ordination and the balance after, even though their circumstances are very different.  The tenative schedule for your administrator, beginning the formation program this month with ordination around the end of November, is fully consistent with this pattern, which undoubtedly will hold for all former Anglican clergy who completed a full program of seminary formation in the Anglican Communion.  Of course, this timeline is also susceptable to alteration if unexpected issues arise, as in the case of Fr. John Hunwicke of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

The situation of clergy who received their formation for ministry in various “Continuing Anglican” bodies is more difficult to assess, and the ordinariates probably will have to address it case by case.  Much will depend upon the ability to obtain documentation of their past formation.  Those who can produce documentation showing formation equivalent to an Anglican seminary will follow substantially the same track as those who completed an Anglican seminary program.  At the other extreme, those who cannot produce documentation or whose documentation contains major gaps may have to complete a full Catholic seminary program.  Of course, there are many degrees of “in between” — some probably will be able to cure deficiencies in their documented prior formation with a semester or two of additional formation in a Catholic school of theology (or seminary) before their Catholic ordinations.  Here, the case of Fr. James Bradley of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is instructive:  he was an Anglican seminarian, ordained as a transitional deacon, when he came into the Catholic Church, so he received Catholic ordination to deaconate fairly quickly, then completed his seminary training in a Catholic seminary prior to ordination as a presbyter.

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross has not progressed to the point of ordaining its clergy, but I have seen no indication that its processes will differ substantially from those of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.


… and then my own:

“Norm, you seem to be very well informed and to present all your information in a very balanced way. I basically concur with your explanations.

It is fairly clear that there is no discrimination whatsoever against former TAC clergy. Already several of them have been ordained, in fact in each of the Ordinariates, and the whole exercise is only 20 months old – thus they have all been ordained within the previous two year period which applied to Anglican trained clergy.

I think the most obvious proof that the TAC is being treated no differently from other Anglican churches is the fact that a TAC bishop, Harry Entwistle, i.e. not a bishop of the Anglican Communion who later joined the TAC, like Robert Mercer, but one who was appointed and ordained bishop within the TAC, has been appointed Ordinary in Australia in the same way as his “official” Anglican colleagues in England and the U.S..

And like the three ex-bishops in the U.K. he has been ordained immediately after being received, without any previous Roman Catholic formation whatsoever.

So I would be grateful if we could end the conspiracy theories.

David Murphy

This entry was posted in Mgr. Keith Newton, Msgr. Harry Entwistle, Ordinariate OLW, Other Ordinariates. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to There is no obvious discrimination against former TAC members and clergy

  1. Pingback: There Is No Obvious Discrimination Against Former TAC Members and Clergy « Fr Stephen Smuts

  2. Rev22:17 says:


    Thank you for your kind comments!

    There is one correction to my earlier post, brought to my attention by a reply from Fr. Chistopher Phillips on the blog where I posted my earlier comment. Apparently Fr. Phillips completed the entire program of Catholic formation before he and his congregation were received into the church. He came into full communion a few weeks before his Catholic ordination, with his congregation coming into full communion at the ordination mass. The congregation observed a eucharistic fast during the interim period.

    Your “pingback” on the other site led me to find your blog here. I’ll review the rest of the posts here and perhaps post some additional comments over the next few days.


  3. Thomas J. Cairns says:

    I have tried to absorb the blogs, yet stay out of the commentaries. However, while I don’t pretend to be as omniscient as David Murphy, I have to ask if he has considered the number of clergy who have been tripped-up along the wayside. A dossier is submitted and a period of silence begins. Finally, calls are made, but the other end maintains its silence. As a full year approaches, there is a letter which in effect says: YOU ARE NO LONGER BEING CONSIDERED FOR THE PRIESTHOOD OF THE ORDINARIATE!!! It is a form letter, no reasons are given. I have been in touch with many who have received this letter, and they, too, are hurt and bewildered. Most have received ordination in the Episcopal Church prior to a period in a continuing church. Regardless of the prior education and ordination, they seem to have committed a mortal sin in not putting up with the heterodoxy of the Episcopal Church until a path was open to make the move to the clergy of the Catholic Church. Is there a bias? I say there is.
    Thomas J. Cairns

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s