A - Thanks for the question. Since Pope Benedict announced that he would allow the Ordinariates to be formed, there have been a number of questions surrounding them. Here is the difference.
Previously, if an Anglican/Episcopalian wanted to become Catholic, they had to do it like everyone else - RCIA. If they wanted to then have an Anglican-Rite parish established had to wait for years to get approval through the Vatican.
The declaration by Pope Benedict XVI, Anglicanorum Coetibus, makes the process much easier for not only individuals, but groups, to become Catholic. But, they get to keep their liturgy, songs, pastoral practices, governance, etc. that come from the Anglican Communion. They will be overseen by an "Ordinary" (a bishop or priest) who will run the group similar to a Diocese.
Here is some additional information from the first Ordinariate established in England and Wales. I will provide a snip:
The central purpose of Anglicanorum coetibus is "to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared". Members of the Ordinariate will bring with them, into full communion with the Catholic Church in all its diversity and richness of liturgical rites and traditions, some aspects their own Anglican patrimony and culture.Then the question that might help understand the structure:
It is recognised that the term Anglican patrimony is difficult to define but it would include many of the spiritual writings, prayers, hymnody, and pastoral practices distinctive to the Anglican tradition which have sustained the faith and longing of many Anglican faithful for that very unity for which Christ prayed.
The Ordinariate will then bring a mutual enrichment and exchange of gifts, in an authentic and visible form of full communion, between those baptised and nurtured in Anglicanism and the Catholic Church.
What is the ‘Ordinariate’ then?I hope this helps.
The Ordinariate will be a specific ecclesiastical jurisdiction which is similar to a diocese and will be led by its own ‘Ordinary’ (see below) who will be a bishop or priest. However, unlike a diocese its membership will be on a ‘personal’ rather than a ‘territorial’ basis; that is, no matter where a member of the Ordinariate lives within England and Wales they will, in the first instance, be under the ordinary ecclesial jurisdiction of the Ordinariate and not the diocese where they are resident.
The Ordinariate will be made up of laity, clergy and religious who were formerly members of the Anglican Communion. Following reception into full communion with the Catholic Church, the laity and religious will become members of the Ordinariate by enrolment in a register; with ordination as priests and deacons, the clergy will be directly incardinated into (placed under the jurisdiction of) the Ordinariate.