As many as 100 U.S. Anglican priests and 2,000 laypeople could be the first members of a U.S. personal ordinariate for former Anglicans who want to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington reported to his fellow bishops June 15.
Cardinal Wuerl was appointed by the Vatican last September to guide the incorporation of Anglican groups into the Catholic Church in the United States under "Anglicanorum coetibus," an apostolic constitution issued by Pope Benedict XVI in November 2009.
At a news conference following his report, Cardinal Wuerl said he "wouldn't be surprised" if the Vatican were to establish the U.S. ordinariate by the end of the year. "I think it will be sooner rather than later," he said.
Two Anglican congregations in Maryland -- St. Luke's in Bladensburg and Mount Calvary in Baltimore -- have announced their intention to join the new ordinariate once it is established.
Addressing the bishops at the close of the first day of their spring general assembly near Seattle, the cardinal said St. Mary's Seminary in Houston has developed and the Vatican has approved an intensive nine-month program of priestly formation for Anglican clergy who wish to become Catholic priests.
Father Jeffrey Steenson, the former Episcopal bishop of the Rio Grande who became a Catholic in 2007 and now teaches at St. Mary's Seminary, was instrumental in developing the program, which focuses on "the areas of historic theological divergence" between the Catholic and Anglican churches, Cardinal Wuerl said.
The only ordinariate created thus far under "Anglicanorum coetibus" is the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England, which includes 60 former Anglican clergy and some 1,000 laypeople.
Ordinariates are under consideration in Australia and Canada, as well as in the United States.
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