Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to USCCB President on giving cura animarum ordinaria to married Catholic priests who had formerly been Protestant ministers, 23 November 2015.
MEMORANDUMTo: All Bishops
From: Reverend Monsignor J. Brian Bransfield, General Secretary
Date: December 14, 2015
Subject: Exercise of the cura animarum ordinaria by Married Former Anglican and Protestant Ministers
Your Eminence / Your Excellency,
Through the courtesy of His Eminence Gerhard Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and at the direction of Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, USCCB President, I take this occasion to forward to you the attached letter conveying to the episcopal conference the Congregation’s decision to rescind its longstanding policy of restricting the exercise of the cura animarum ordinaria by married former Anglican and Protestant ministers who are ordained Catholic priests in the United States and Canada.
Thank you for your kind attention to this memorandum.
Congregazione per la dottrina della fedeProt. N. 66/77–53108
Most Rev. Joseph Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 Fourth Street, NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194
In March of this year, this Congregation informed you of its intention to undertake a review of its policy restricting cura animarum ordinaria as regards former Protestant ministers who receive a dispensation from the obligation of clerical celibacy so as to be ordained Catholic priests. Partially, this policy has meant that such clergy have not been appointed as Pastors of parishes unless the local Bishop has requested and received a specific derogation from the Holy See.
The Dicastery has now concluded its review of the reasons for enacting the policy in the early 1980’s in the light of the now 30-year experience of the Church with such married clergy, particularly in the Pastoral Provision. The review also took into account a consultation of Bishops who have a direct experience in these situations. In light of this, the Cardinal and Bishop Members of the Congregation have decided to rescind the policy restricting cura animarum ordinaria for married former Protestant clergy. In the future, the decision to appoint a married Catholic priest to the office of Pastor is left to the prudential judgment of that priest’s Ordinary.
In an audience granted to me on October 31, 2015, Pope Francis confirmed this decision of the Cardinal and Bishop Members of the Congregation.
I have written a letter communicating this decision to Most Rev. Kevin Vann, the Holy See’s Delegate for the Pastoral Provision, who remains available to the Bishops offering assistance in identifying, evaluating, and forming former Anglican clergy who have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church and desire to be ordained to the priesthood. Indeed, the Pastoral Provision remains the ordinary path for the integration of former Anglican clergy who enter full communion as individuals, while the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter offers a structure for those clergy who enter with groups of the faithful.
I would ask you to bring this emendation to the policy on cura animarum ordinaria to the attention of the Bishops of the United States.
With prayerful best wishes, I am,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Gerhard Card. Müller
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to USCCB President on giving cura animarum ordinaria to married Catholic priests who had formerly been Protestant ministers, 23 November 2015, Prot. no. 66/77-53018.