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Texas Anglican-use parish adopted into Anglican ordinariate

March 23, 2017

A vigorous Catholic parish in Texas, led by a former Anglican priest, has been incorporated into the Anglican Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, ending a battle for control.

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The Anglican ordinariate—which is responsible for the Anglican communities in America coming into the Catholic Church under the provisions of 2009 papal document Anglicanorum Coetibus—announced that the parish of Our Lady of Atonement had been transferred to the jurisdiction of the ordinariate. The parish, along with its school, had previously been a part of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

Father Christopher Phillips, a married Anglican priest, had originally entered the Catholic Church and been ordained to the Catholic priesthood under the “pastoral provision” for Anglicans set up by Pope John Paul II. He brought many Anglican lay people with him, and attracted others to the community, making Our Lady of Atonement a flourishing parish community.

When Pope Benedict XVI issued Anglicanorum Coetibus, establishing the Anglican ordinariates, Father Phillips inquired about moving the parish into the new jurisdiction. But the newly installed Archbishop of San Antonio, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, strongly opposed the move. In January of this year, Archbishop Garcia-Siller removed Father Phillips from his post as pastor, suggesting that the priest had become a source of division within the archdiocese.

In February, however, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) ruled that the parish of Our Lady of the Atonement should be incorporated into the Anglican ordinariate, which is led by Bishop Stephen Lopes. When that decision was announced to the parish on March 21, Bishop Lopes remarked to a cheering crowd that canonical rulings were rarely so popular.

The CDF ruled that all Catholic parishes using the adapted Anglican liturgy under the terms of the “pastoral provision” should be incorporated into the Anglican ordinariate. In the US, that ruling applies only to the parish of Our Lady of the Atonement in Texas and the Congregation of St. Athanasius, which is currently affiliated with the Archdiocese of Boston.

The process of transferring parish properties from the archdiocese to the ordinariate will involve a number of legal complexities. The ordinariate has assigned a priest in Houston, Father Timothy Perkins, to supervise that process, making him formally the administrator of the parish of Our Lady of the Atonement. Father Phillips is now officially the “pastor emeritus,” but will fill the same pastoral roles that he previously held in the community.


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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Mar. 25, 2017 10:09 AM ET USA

    These communities are truly are truly generous givers,no weekly dollar in the collection basket. They would be mussed.

  • Posted by: skall391825 - Mar. 24, 2017 6:08 PM ET USA

    I wonder if Cardinal Muller will like Gibraltar?

  • Posted by: unum - Mar. 24, 2017 9:27 AM ET USA

    brenda22890 is right. Many of America's dioceses are financial rather than spiritual, and the people of God are poorer for it!

  • Posted by: brenda22890 - Mar. 24, 2017 5:49 AM ET USA

    When a diocese wrangles over property this way they betray more of an interest in material wealth than in the salvation of souls.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Mar. 23, 2017 5:27 PM ET USA

    Dignum et iustum est!