Fr Stephen Smuts

Archbishop Vincent Nichols Hostile to the Ordinariate?

with 16 comments

That’s the inference made in the Catholic Herald:

At Westminster Cathedral this Saturday, another milestone for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham will be reached, with the ordination of another 17 former Anglican priests as deacons on their way to the Catholic priesthood. The ordination Mass will be celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Alan Hopes of Westminster. “I have been informed”, says the author of the excellent A Reluctant Sinner blog, “that it has been quite some time since Westminster Cathedral will have witnessed the ordination of so many men at the one Mass.”

As I have already written in this column, I am beginning to wonder if the warm welcome with which even formerly hostile members of our hierarchy greeted the establishment of the ordinariate was genuine. Was their conversion authentic? Or were they being devious? Is the truth that their warm words were what they knew the Pope wanted them to utter, but that their true intention, hidden this time, in contrast to their open hostility to the original “Roman Option”, was to allow the whole thing to get under way and then quietly and over time to strangle it? I think that is the real truth.

If it is not, why, unlike the new American ordinariate and the even newer Australian ordinariate (who were both assigned a church building on their erection), has the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham still not been given a principal church? In the words of Damian Thompson: “The failure to address the matter is so morale-sapping that I really can’t blame those Anglicans who are hesitating to take the plunge…”

This is not the first time I have voiced these anxieties…

This certainly looks like a convincing answer to Damian Thompson’s question: “where is the London church that will serve as the ordinariate’s headquarters?” The answer is that it exists in the imagination and the aspirations of the Ordinary and his entourage: but that it has no existence in reality and never will without the firm intervention of the Pope. The following is the answer that Archbishop Nichols gave at a press conference, to a question about the provision of an ordinariate “cathedral”:  “I think that is something probably beyond their resources at the present time, and I don’t think the ordinariate would thank us, actually, to simply give it responsibility for a church that it would have to then maintain and upkeep.

The fact is, however, that those who have crossed the Tiber to the ordinariate do regard a main church as a priority. The fact is also that those 17 new deacons (so many more than are usually ordained at Westminster Cathedral) weren’t being ordained for the Archdiocese of Westminster but for the ordinariate: they ought to have been ordained at the ordinariate’s principal church. The reason that they haven’t got one is simple: it is that Archbishop Nichols has decided that he will not make one available — not because he hasn’t got one but because he is hostile to the ordinariate . To say he won’t give them one because of the costs of maintenance is utterly ridiculous: the archbishop could easily help with that problem for a year or two out of petty cash: it would make up just a little for the extreme meanness of the financial help given by the mainstream English Church thus far. I would not be at all surprised if the very unusual recent gift by the Holy Father of £150,000 wasn’t at least partly intended by him as a rebuke to the English church for its parsimony, and also a way of reminding them of his own very strong support for this brave venture.

There is something else going on. I have a suspicion that there is a hidden ecumenical agenda here, behind the policy of keeping the ordinariate homeless. And behind that lies another intention. At the same time as the Anglican Bishop of London was making it plain that he would sooner demolish an unused Anglican building or turn it into a carpet warehouse than allow an ordinariate parish to use it, Archbishop Nichols was saying that the natural place for ordinariate Catholics to worship would be their local Catholic parish church. Well, it would certainly be the best place if you just want to absorb them within the local parish, while hijacking their clergy – at first to “help out”, and then, who knows? – rather than give them the independent ecclesial existence envisaged in Anglicanorum coetibus.

I really do hope that the nuncio Archbishop Mennini is keeping his eye on this one. For, if he isn’t, and if Rome simply assumes that Archbishop Nichols is doing everything that is necessary for the Pope’s vision to be realised, I fear that the whole enterprise may run into the sands. Everything depends on its maintaining its momentum. But it cannot do that entirely alone in the early stages. In the US and in Australia, the local hierarchy is getting behind the ordinariate. Not here. Why is that?

Read it all here.

The hostility aimed at the Ordinariate is palpable in parts – both from within (certain Catholic quarters) and from Anglican sources. This is my personal opinion.  In fact I would go as far as to suggest that pretence is a common response which frequently gives way to veiled persecution. It is exacting and regrettably now a notable aspect of the history of the Ordinariate.

As this great work of ecumenical unity continues to unfold, pray that all opposition and resentment will soon come to pass…

 

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Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

May 24, 2012 at 18:03

16 Responses

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  1. “Rome” must also learn to respect, to degree, that English Anglicanism, has other Christians besides the Anglo-Catholics! And the days of the Roman Papal Monarch, are less in both postmodernity, and certainly other “Christians”. No “tiara” these days! > The two subsequent popes (John Paul I and John Paul II) abandoned the monarchial coronation, opting instead for a coronation-less investiture. In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI took a step further and removed the tiara from his papal coat of arms, replacing it with a mitre. Indeed its hard for Rome no doubt to live-up to their own change in symbols!

  2. Actually, I thnk that abp Mennini is the perfect man to overcome any obstacles faced by the UK Ordinariate. And the resistance somehow confirms that it is really a work of God.

    Continental Catholic

    May 24, 2012 at 20:09

  3. I suspect that the lack of a principal church comes down to a lack of money. Even if a church was given to the Ordinariate, the running costs of the building would be substantial. Especially if the church needs renovations or repairs, or even just a good lick of paint to bring it back into use. Now we may argue about whether it is financially prudent to wait for a while before establishing a principal church, or whether it would be better to establish it now and hope that it can be supported – that’s a different argument. I think that if ++Westminster dropped a nice church into the lap of the Ordinary, Mgr Newton would be less than ecstatic.

    I’m more concerned about why it is taking Rome so long to approve the statutes of the Ordinariate. This is causing a real bottleneck: no statutes, no governing council. Without a properly-constituted governing council, the Ordinariate cannot erect any personal parishes, which is why they are all still called “groups”. There is an interim governing council, but I have been told by a senior Ordinariate priest (who has been a friend for years) that its mandate is strictly limited.

    Stephen

    May 24, 2012 at 20:37

    • With regards to the statutes and governing council, the situation is as it is because the Ordinariate does not at this stage have it’s own Canon lawyers/experts. Two of the current Ordinariate priests (Fr Redvers-Harris is one them, can’t remember who the other is) are studying Canon Law in Louvain exactly for this reason.

      Conchúr

      May 24, 2012 at 22:02

      • Fr. Ivan Aquilina I believe.

        Don Henri

        May 25, 2012 at 00:43

  4. There can be no doubt that there is a lot of resistance on our side to the Ordinariates. For some – clerical and lay alike – it is simply ignorance. For others, it is akin to Hans Kueng’s infallible pronouncement that Benedict XVI will cease to be Pope if he reconciles the SSPX. Both are symptoms of the Church’s true nature reasserting herself, and boy, are those who hate that annoyed!

    Charles A. Coulombe

    May 24, 2012 at 20:45

    • I’m with Kung here! How can Rome really reconcile with the SSPX, without flying a real Judaistic flag? This would be a real loss in the freedom of the Gospel, not to mention the best of the spirit of Vatican II!

      • But note, I am quite aware of many of Kung’s theological and social problems, so I don’t follow him everywhere (btw, he’s really theologically something of a “Lutheran”). But on the Papal power aspects he knows what that essence really means, but sadly however Kung is caught still in that whole struggle, though outside Rome, he is still about “power”.

      • We don’t have to receive lectures from an apostate on how to reconcile a displaced part of our own Church.
        + PAX et BONUM

        Don Henri

        May 25, 2012 at 00:44

      • @Don Henri: Indeed when you cannot attack the issue, then attack the man! Such is the poor ad hominem!…Sad!

      • Kung is a traitorous, heretical theologian. Of course, this being “Irish Anglican”, I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he becomes “Irish Atheist” since there are so many now, probably encouraged by liberalized clergy. Further more, if you, Irish Anglican, divorce who you are and what your issues are, then you are indeed a hypocrite who separates what he says from what he does, and from what he is. And that’s why your opinions are invalid; you are like the Pharisee, white on the outside, rotten and dead at the core.

        Ioannes Martialis

        May 25, 2012 at 06:44

      • IM: Wow, again such ignorance! I can see that you don’t really read, think or pay attention, but just spit out stupid vitriolic! And once again this is just bad ad hominemism! In case you don’t know what that means, it means you sir are prejudiced and bigoted!

  5. Certainly a simple equation is emerging; those who oppose the Ordinariates oppose the Pope.

    Charles A. Coulombe

    May 25, 2012 at 01:46

    • Amen, this is very true! But, it is not so much the man/pope, as the papacy itself! It is this that I myself will always oppose! And yet, this is no longer a kind of war, but a real theological difference. On many other things and even theological issues we and I can find some agreement. :)

      • But, I really don’t believe any “Biblical-theological” Christian can accept the doctrines of the papacy! Like Luther, here my conscience is also bound!

      • Ah, well, I never comment on the internal politics of the Orange Order myself – my non-agreement would be a given, and my participation therein unhelpful.

        Charles A. Coulombe

        May 25, 2012 at 02:40


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