The question now mulling around is where (if there is to be any) will the next Ordinariate be erected? What began in the heartland of Anglicanism, in England and Wales on 1 January 2011, as an initiative to unite and bring disaffected Anglicans into the safe fold of the Catholic Church, has spread to the US (and Canada), and as of today, Australia. It’s a logical sort of progression: Extension into lands that were all at one time part of the British Empire, and thus to where the influence of the Church of England has reached, and is still well felt to this very day. Anglicans, Continuing Anglicans and Episcopalians are the intent behind the apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus. So following the geographic extent of the now worldwide Anglican Communion seems to be key in order for us to stay abreast of the historic narrative unfolding before our eyes. And unfolding it is… As a canonical structure within the Roman Catholic Church, the Ordinariate continues to grow and development, not just where established or delimited geographically, but also by spreading into new and other territories.
Here is a rather interesting world map showing the Provinces of the Anglican Communion in Blue (the other colours are Churches now in full communion with the Anglican Church):
The ‘official line’ of course is that there needs to be sufficient interest to warrant the establishment of a Personal Ordinariate in any given place. In Canada however, where numbers are low, groups exist as Sodalities, with incorporation into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, but a prayerful future possibility. One can only wonder about figures in Australia (New Zealand and the Torres Strait?). It may well be a little too early for such wild speculation, however all indications in the present are that numbers will be (are) small. But then again, as Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson once put it when describing that which lay before him: ‘I’m basically starting a new diocese from nothing … from scratch.’ So then there is always plenty of room for both growth and development, especially when you are starting from scratch.
Now with the above in mind, dare one then venture to ask the question: ‘where next?’ A lot of people have already. Perhaps we can even do a little poll? But before we do, let’s first allow for a few obvious suggestions:
1) Africa. Africa, it would appear is the next most likely place for the erection of an Ordinariate. In fact, there are already whispers in the corridors of power… But only that: little whispers. Of course God – and this is against the naysayers – never ceases to amaze and/or confound the best of human wisdom. Anglicanism is big, vibrant and strong in Africa. Orthodox in many parts too. The dissatisfaction with theological matters in the West, or the ‘apostasy’ as they have come to call it, has caused the African Anglican bishops to rally around the Global South, a group of Provinces all coming from so-called ‘Third World’ countries. They are conservative. One obvious exception would be South Africa, which has largely embraced the liberalism of the West and is well affiliated with the USA’s Episcopal Church. But it is exactly that malaise that causes Anglicans to question their theological position.
I couldn’t help but notice a passing question posed by Fr Peter Geldard in the last Portal Magazine:
‘Seeds sown in different parts of the worldwide Communion may take generations to materialise. As we rejoice – and thank God – for the Ordinariate in Australia, our thoughts and prayers must be: Where next?
When I visited South Africa in the past, I was often reminded of Archbishop Fisher’s words that the Anglican Church there once “was the jewel in the Anglo-Catholic crown”.
Is anyone in that Province listening and responding. . . I wonder?’
2. India. Anglicanism on the subcontinent is complex. The Church of South India (Anglican) is India’s second largest Christian church, after the Roman Catholic Church. Along with the Church of North India, the Church of Pakistan, and the Church of Bangladesh, it is one of the four united Churches in the region. The sheer volume of Anglicans may in and of self, suggests a level of interest. Further, the Traditional Anglican Communion’s Acting Primate currently resides in India. As the TAC’s largest Province, and being traditional Anglo-Catholic in theology and liturgical practice, their very existence and size would indeed lend credence to the now supposed presence of disaffected Anglicans.
3. Japan. It would seem most unlikely. Maybe a connection could be established with the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, down-under. But numbers would be negligible at best.
4. South America. Anglicans in South America are very thinly spread. It is one of the smaller Provinces in the Anglican Communion in terms of size and numbers. Latin American countries are and remain primarily Catholic.
So what say ye?
One last point. I think that the appointment of Fr Harry Entwistle today as the first Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross clearly dispels the myth that TAC Clergy are ‘inferior’. It now clearly all boils down to individuals and their suitability for Ordination in the Catholic Church. Are there impediments or not? That is the question.