Tipped by many to be in line for the cardinal's red hat at the coming consistory -- which, according to some reports, could be announced by B16 as soon as next month -- the appointment is a sign of Rome's continuing regard for the famously-efficient capital prelate, who turns 70 in November.
Long a "conference man," Wuerl already serves in one high-profile USCCB post as chair of the bench's Doctrine Committee.
For the rest, here below, the Mothership release:
In this position, [Wuerl] is a delegate of the congregation and heads the U.S. bishops’ ad hoc committee charged with assisting CDF in implementing the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. Pope Benedict XVI issued the document in November 2009 to provide for establishing personal ordinariates for Anglican groups who seek to enter corporately into full communion with the Catholic Church.Charged with taking requests for communion and facilitating petitioning groups' process of reception into the fold, Anglicanorum delegates are being named for each episcopal conference where an ordinariate could potentially emerge; Canada's is another widely-tipped cardinal-in-waiting -- Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto -- while Auxiliary Bishop Peter Elliott of Melbourne (himself a former Anglican priest) is handling the task for the Australian bishops. (While we're at it, another CDF delegate on these shores is Archbishop John Myers of Newark, who handles requests for the Pastoral Provision -- the case-by-case Roman dispensation from celibacy for married former clergy of other churches who seek to be ordained in the Catholic priesthood.)
The personal ordinariate is a canonical structure similar to a diocese that covers the area of a bishops’ conference. This permits the incoming Anglicans to be part of the Catholic Church while maintaining aspects of their Anglican heritage and liturgical practice.
Other members of the ad hoc committee are Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth, Texas, and Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts. The committee will be assisted by Father Scott Hurd, who was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1993, joined the Catholic Church in 1996, and was ordained a Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Washington in 2000. Father Hurd will assist Archbishop Wuerl as staff to the ad hoc committee and a liaison to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Interested Anglicans are asked to contact Archbishop Wuerl through the Washington Archdiocese.
The ad hoc committee has two tasks:
To facilitate the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus in the United States
To assess the level of interest in such an ordinariate in the United States.
Intriguingly, it bears noting that Rome's choice of its US delegate has fallen to a prelate: 1. whose mentor, the late Cardinal John Wright, bore a particularly concerted devotion to the now-Blessed John Henry Newman... and 2. who is particularly well known to the most prominent leader of US Anglicanism's breakaway traditional faction.
Bishop of his native Pittsburgh until his DC transfer in 2006, Wuerl shares warm ties with the Steel City's former Episcopal bishop, Robert Duncan, who led much of his flock out of the Anglican Communion's traditional American province last year to become the founding head of a parallel group, the Anglican Church in North America. (Duncan was accordingly deposed as a cleric of the Episcopal church.)
What's more, after the 2003 consecration of New Hampshire's Gene Robinson as the Communion's first openly-gay hierarch -- the watershed moment in Anglicanism's long-simmering divide over hot-button doctrinal and moral questions -- the roots for what's become the ACNA were laid at a summit in Plano, Texas, which drew an eyebrow-raising letter from a lone ecumenical representative pledging his "heartfelt prayers" for the gathering as he observed that "significance of your meeting is [being] sensed far beyond" the South, and even beyond the walls of the Anglican Communion.
Said conspicuous greeter? Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
On a side-note, earlier this month Wuerl released another meticulous pastoral letter, this one on the New Evangelization.