Anglicans Joining Ordinariate Are Like ‘Hobbits In Search of Treasure’

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (CNS)

So say the Ordinary, Msgr Keith Newton:

Anglicans joining the Ordinariate are like Bilbo Baggins and the other hobbits going in search of treasure, Mgr Keith Newton said on Sunday.

Speaking in Portsmouth Cathedral, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham began his homily by mentioning The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, which he described as “one of (his) favourite children’s books… the exiting story of a hobbit together with a band of dwarves searching for dragon guarded gold,” before adding that the true treasure is to be found in Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven.

“To discover Christ and his kingdom is more of a lifelong treasure hunt,” he said. “We need God’s grace to do this because it needs courage to make sacrifices and to take risks for Christ if we try to faithfully seek his kingdom and his righteousness. It is part of making choices in seeking of the kingdom that has led some former Anglicans to enter full communion of the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.”

He said that people sometimes asked members of the Ordinariate why they couldn’t become “proper Catholics”. “What they mean”, he said, is “why can’t you just be absorbed into the wider Catholic Church so that what you bring disappears like sugar dissolved in water”. But, he added, “Christian Unity is not about Christian uniformity”.

“It is about exploring the possibility of sharing a common faith in communion with the successor of Peter and yet having different liturgical, devotional and pastoral practices which enrich the wider Church. When Catholics and Anglicans first began talking about unity they used the phrase of being ‘united but not absorbed’. In the Ordinariate that idea has been put into practice – the possibility of Unity of Faith and diversity of expression,” Mgr Newton said.

“Pope Benedict encouraged us not to leave our history behind but to take it into the Catholic Church and to share some of the distinctive aspects of Anglicanism which are consistent with the Catholic Faith.” The Ordinariate Mass has elements taken from the Book of Common Prayer – “a treasure to be shared.”

An Ordinariate “exploration day” event in Portsmouth is just one of 40 different events being held on September 6 by Ordinariate groups across the country, to help people to understand the Ordinariate better. Pope Francis last week sent his good wishes, saying he is praying for the success of the day.

For the full text Mgr Newton’s homily go here.

Pope Francis Prays for Success of Initiative to Convert Anglicans

The above heading caught my attention on the inimitable Fr Z’s blog:

In the wake of the decision of the State tethered Church of England to have wyshyps (female bishops), the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham set up a “Exploration Day”.

You know that the Ordinariate was created according to the provisions of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, for Anglicans who want to be Catholic and want to retain their customs, liturgy, etc.

Benedict XVI is, of course, the Pope of Christian Unity.

Anglicans have a true home in the Catholic Church.

I just read this press release from the Ordinariate:

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE PERSONAL ORDINARIATE OF OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 27.07.2014

Pope Francis Prays For Success of Ordinariate’s Exploration Day

Pope Francis has said he is praying for the success of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham’s forthcoming “Called To Be One” exploration day, which it has planned with the aim of increasing understanding of the Ordinariate’s purpose and reaching out to those who may feel called to join it.

The endorsement was delivered in a letter from the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, to Monsignor Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Ordinariate.

The full text of Archbishop Mennini’s letter reads as follows:

“At the request of the Secretariat of State, I have been asked to inform you that  the Holy Father Francis, on learning of the national day of exploration entitled “Called to be One”, organised by the various Groups of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and due to take place on Saturday 6 September 2014, wishes to convey his good wishes and prayers for a successful and inspiring event. The Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing upon all those persons who are participating in this significant event and working in any way for the promotion and presentation of the Catholic Faith and the Gospel in Great Britain”.

The Nuncio ends with his own prayerful good wishes for a very successful day.

Pope Francis’ blessing on the exploration day and Archbishop Mennini’s words of support for it follow a statement of welcome for the initiative from Cardinal Vincent Nichols. In his capacity as President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Cardinal said: “the Ordinariate both enriches the Catholic Church with Catholic aspects of the beautiful heritage and culture of Anglican patrimony and advances the cause of unity which must be the ultimate aim of all ecumenical activity… I wish you every success with this initiative. I hope it will attract many interested enquirers”.

Last week Mgr Newton warmly invited all those who are interested in the Ordinariate to attend the exploration day “whether because they are considering their future or just because they would like to see more of what we are and what we do” . Mgr Newton’s invitation came in his response to the Church of England General Synod’s decision to allow women to be ordained as bishops. In the same statement Mgr Newton said that, though that decision was a very happy one for many within the Church of England, it made the position undeniably harder for those within the Anglican Church who still longed for unity with Rome.

The Ordinariate was set up by Pope Benedict in 2011 to make it possible for Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church to do so, bringing with them much of the heritage and traditions of Anglicanism. Pope Benedict described these as “treasures to be shared”. On the exploration day, each of the 40 or so Ordinariate groups across the country will host a different event, with the common theme of the vision for Christian unity which is at the heart of the Ordinariate.

I am glad to hear of Pope Francis’ prayers for the success of this initiative to help Anglicans come into the Catholic Church.

As Benedict, so Francis.

There is also a comment (with a link) which will be of interest to readers of this blog on the status of the Church of Torres Strait here.

 

The Ordinariate on Women Bishops

From the Ordinary:

In his statement on the C of E’s decision to allow women bishops, Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in the Catholic Church, only briefly comments on the decision itself. The main thrust of his message is to hold the door of the Ordinariate open for those who are “considering their future”.

He writes:

Monsignor Newton shakes hands - klein“For many in the Church of England this will be a very happy day. Having agreed to permit women priests in 1992, the Church of England’s decision today to allow women bishops is the next logical step. What is undeniable is that both developments make harder the position of those within the Church of England who still long for corporate unity with the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Pope Benedict XVl’s decision to set up the ordinariates – allowing former Anglicans to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church, bringing with them much of the Anglican heritage and tradition – was made in response to repeated requests from Anglicans who longed for unity with the Catholic Church. It was a prophetic and generous ecumenical gesture because it demonstrated the possibility of unity of faith with diversity of expression.

On 6 September the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is holding a Called To Be One exploration day, which is aimed at making the Ordinariate more widely known and understood and reaching those whom God may be calling to join it. Groups across the country will stage an event on the day. Each event will be different – it may be Choral Evensong followed by refreshments and a presentation about the Ordinariate or it might be a debate or a talk – but all the events will focus on the vision for Christian unity at the heart of the Ordinariate. All who are interested – whether because they are considering their future or just because they would like to see more of what we are and what we do are warmly invited to attend.

The groups page of the Ordinariate website will be updated with details of the Called To Be One day as plans develop. http://www.ordinariate.org.uk/groups/groups.html”

The Rt Revd Mgr Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

See also in the Catholic Herald: Ordinariate reaches out to Anglicans after women bishops vote.

 

Anglican Priest, Flock Cross a Welcoming Bridge

In the Boston Globe:

Before Mass on a recent Sunday, the Rev. Jurgen Liias stood in a cramped sacristy of a Catholic church with an acolyte and cantor and began a call-and-response prayer of preparation.

Incense smoldered. The men thumped their chests in a gesture of contrition.

The elaborate ritual would seem unusual to most Catholic priests, who pray silently before Mass as they don their vestments, or quietly focus on the sacred work ahead. But Liias, who is 65, is different. He entered the church through a new doorway that lets members of the Anglican Communion return to the mother church in Rome while retaining their congregational communities — and, if they wish, much of their ornate ritual, including old Catholic traditions that Rome changed or left behind.

Pope John Paul II extended to Anglicans, including married priests, the opportunity to become Catholic in 1980. During the next 30 years, 100 or so Anglican priests entered the Catholic Church and were incorporated into local dioceses.

But some in the worldwide Anglican Communion — particularly the Episcopal Church, the religious body’s US province — wanted to make it easier for whole congregations to come in, and to be part of a group of like-minded churches.

At their request, Pope Benedict XVI established special “ordinariates” — basically superdioceses — especially for Anglican priests and congregations. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, which spans the United States and Canada, was created last year. It includes more than 30 congregations, including Liias’s St. Gregory the Great, which held its first Mass in April.

“They are on a pilgrimage together, as opposed to an individual journey,” said the Rev. R. Scott Hurd, the ordinariate’s vicar general.

It is a tiny movement so far, with fewer than 2,000 people spread across a vast continent, an infinitesimal proportion of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

In many respects, the ordinariate resembles the Eastern Catholic Churches that returned to Rome from the Eastern Orthodox Church and have been allowed to preserve their own worship traditions and structure.

Hurd said the Vatican created the ordinariate primarily to “promote Christian unity” by bringing Anglicans back into the fold of Catholicism.

He said Episcopalians who are attracted to Catholicism “usually struggle with the breadth of plurality in belief” within the Episcopal Church “and come to appreciate the definitive teachings that are found in Catholicism.”

Liias has spent most of his career at the margins of the Episcopal Church, embracing both charismatic and high-church worship styles, each of which would be alien to most Episcopalians in Massachusetts. An avuncular grandfather who hikes 14,000-foot mountains and has deep experience in the charismatic movement, he is as comfortable speaking in tongues as he is praying the rosary.

He has come to see Catholicism as the center of gravity of Christianity, and an inevitable end point, not only on his own path as a Christian, but for Christianity itself.

“The unity of the church is not only an imperative for the internal life of God’s people but an essential dimension of her evangelical mission,” he wrote in a blog post this year…

Read on here.

 

Catholics of the Anglican Patrimony

The Catholic League:

On 17 August 2013, Fr Peter Cornwell, a married Catholic priest and former vicar of the same church as Blessed John Henry Newman, The University Church of St Mary, Oxford, wrote a surprisingly mean review in The Tablet of Catholics of the Anglican Patrimony: The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham by the distinguished theologian, historian and thinker, Fr Aidan Nichols OP (Gracewing, Leominster, 2013). Fr Mark Woodruff’s response in The Tablet for 24 August 2013 is below.

The book is an extended essay and arose from a remarkable lecture delivered under the auspices of the Ordinariate, as part of a conference on its place and purpose with the work of New Evangelisation. Fr Nichols revisited a familiar and resonant theme of his, that proclamation and evangelisation do not concern only the personal individual but groups and traditions of people, including entire cultures and histories. This understanding, incidentally, lay within Pope Benedict’s presentation of evangelisation on his visit to Great Britain in 2010. Faith alone, he said, answers humanity’s profoundest questions and longings; hence the need and benefit for the constant and public dialogue of faith and reason, between the Church of Christ and society, the state, politics, commerce and culture. With this in the background, Fr Nichols observed that Catholic society in England was made of four main components: the English recusants at the core of the history from the 16th century onwards, the influx of a large Irish Catholic population to cities from Victorian era onwards, a small but influential stream of English converts to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism of whom Newman and Manning are the most symbolic but which continues to the present day, and more recently the international diaspora of the last two decades, especially from India, Africa, the Far East and Eastern Europe (including Eastern Catholics) transforming the complexion of parishes especially in the larger population centres. The one culture that seems, however, not to find expression and belonging in the contemporary Catholic Church in England is England’s indigenous religious culture for almost the last half-millennium. Thus he makes the argument for embracing the liturgical, pastoral, cultural, spiritual, apologetical, homiletical, operational-organisational and academic-theological traditions and patrimony of Church-of-England Christianity, to equip the Catholic Church in England to address, take seriously, resonate with and converse with English public life and culture, as well as its citizens’ religious sensibility, by means of their familiar spiritual language and sensibility.

Where necessary, of course, for reasons of clear exposition of Catholic teaching these Anglican traditions and patrimony need to be duly adapted to meet the fullness of communion within the Catholic Church, but since all internal Anglican traditions, aspects of heritage and customs have been developed and continue in existence within a conversation between the different schools of theological thought and churchmanship, and thus find ways not only to co-exist in Anglicanism’s internal ecumenism but also to find clearer expression over against each other, there is something intrinsically Anglican about the adaptation needed when embracing a new setting for being in communion within the Body of Christ. Fr Nichols’ 1993 book, which looks at the interplay and relationship between the Catholic and Anglican in English religion, state and culture, The Panther & The Hind: A theological history of Anglicanism remains an essential account of Classic Anglican divinity, and the most sympathetic analysis of the now largely occluded Classic Anglicanism tradition ever made by a Catholic theologian.

It is a pity that Fr Cornwell did not acknowledge this in his endeavour to portray the Ordinariate as a mere refuge for Anglo-Catholics escaping a finally uncongenial Anglicanism. Thus he missed the point that, as the Catholic League can testify, its essential form has been proposed for 100 years at least and that his has influenced Anglican ecumenism for good, spread wide what is now shared by all Christians as “spiritual ecumenism”, and placed the cause of Christian Unity, to which communion with the Apostolic See of Rome is integral, at the heart of the Church’s purpose in proclaiming the Gospel to the world and its cultures. After all, it is Pope Benedict who organised efforts and structures for a New Evangelisation in the struggle for the soul of Old Europe, including the societies which have in part emerged from it across the world through the 19th and 20th centuries. The Ordinariates established under Anglicanorum Coetibus and Ad Gentes are part of this New Evangelisation and represent the Catholic Church’s desire, learned from half a century of direct dialogue and ecumenism, to learn and receive for itself what the providential Anglican tradition and its patrimony has to offer. None of this is for an isolated group that looks in upon its own narrow concerns, any more than Benedictinism, Franciscanism or Jesuitism is – it is something borne by some but for the whole Church – and that includes its efforts to reconciliation and unity.

While some of Fr Cornwell’s comments were legitimate debate and criticism in a book review, he made two misrepresentations as to fact, which made it clear that prejudice was the ground upon which he then went on to caricature the persons – the people and priests – of the Ordinariate. It is clear that he can have met few of them. What follows is the letter submitted to the Editor of The Tablet upon submission that Fr Cornwell’s affront needed a riposte. it appeared in The Tablet publised on 24 August, 2013. The final paragraph was, however, not included owing to the need to make space for a subsequent letter from Mgr Andrew Burnham of the Ordinariate which addresses the same point more fully and better. (The term “lively conversation” reflects Archbishop Rowan Williams’ attempt at a positive description of the adversarial nature of Anglican theological and constitutional decision-making in its Synods, and “treasure to be shared” is a quotation from Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.)

Fr Mark comments, “I do not lightly take issue with a brother priest in public, especially one for whom I have the highest admiration. But, since he first expressed these views in 2009 in my hearing and yet, despite eirenic argument to put his concerns to rest, persisted in disseminating them by way of attack on the true motivation and character of his fellow Catholics in the Ordinariate, it is important to say that the cause of Christian Unity is served by airing disagreement frankly towards better mutual understanding and rapprochement in a spirit of friendship, not by caricaturing people acting in good faith.”

To the Editor, The Tablet, 20 August 2013

Fr Peter Cornwell says that Anglican patrimony “in truth has proved to be quite elusive”. Anglicanorum Coetibus III locates it in liturgical books, the Complementary Norms adding the tradition of married presbyters and the pastoral council for consulting the lay faithful formally. Article 10 refers to a larger hinterland of its aspects of particular value.  In 2010 I collected a volume of over 30 pieces of comment and analysis, critical and supportive – Anglicans & Catholics in Communion: Patrimony, Unity, Mission. A second volume is in preparation. A Customary containing the Divine Office and Calendar was published in 2012 and permission to celebrate an Order of Mass with elements of the Prayer Book rite was issued this summer. This is hardly elusive.

Nor is it accurate to say that Anglicanorum Coetibus came “out of the blue”. Such provision was explored by prominent Catholic-Anglicans with designated Roman Catholic figures in England and Rome in the late 1980s. And around 2008, a sizeable group of Catholic-Anglican bishops visiting Rome with concerns about the Lambeth Conference and General Synod, even discussing possible corporate reunion, did not go behind Lambeth’s back.  What changed was not a papal assault upon the ARCIC method, but Anglicanism’s decision for a fundamental change within the order of bishop. Nevertheless the additional layer of ecclesial incompatibility provides a re-set ecumenical starting point. In this, some have seen a positive opportunity to think through what Anglicans believe the patrimony they offer to the whole Church’s unity in diversity is, in a manner unaddressed before.

Fr Aidan Nichols has pointed out that the prevailing religious tradition of England for nearly five centuries is a large gap in our consciousness of being the Catholic Church for this land and culture:  internalising Anglican aspects of tradition through the Ordinariate offers one way of beginning to fill it, even if late in the day. At the same time it is far from the whole story of Anglican-Catholic reconciliation: for evangelisation to be convincing, Christian unity remains unfinished business.

Fr Cornwell’s mocking tale of narrow sectaries escaping to a “granny flat” is an injustice to the real priests and people of the Ordinariate. He will indeed find some former Romanising Anglo-Catholics, but he will also find inner city pastors, middle-of-the-road “Prayer Book Catholics”, scholars, diverse origins and backgrounds, “Vatican II Evangelicals”, country parsons, overseas missionaries – people with an ecumenical instinct who did not live apart but took part in the “lively conversation” of the Church of England, and who are proving no less willing to engage in our diocesan parish life, as much as they want to see the Ordinariate’s “treasure  to be shared” make its distinctive contribution.  What binds them in the Catholic Church is not shallow preoccupation with liturgical tastes, but the faith that is none other than our own, and acting upon it generously.

Fr Mark Woodruff

 

Ordinariate Sisters Have a Permanent Home

The Hermeneutic of Continuity:

Here is the Press Release from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham:

Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary Move to Permanent Home

The new religious community of the Personal Ordinariate, the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, have a permanent home for the first time since they were received into the full communion of the Catholic Church on New Year’s Day. They are to move on Tuesday (August 27) into a convent in Birmingham which is the former home of the Little Sisters of the Assumption.

Mother Winsome, the Superior of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, said: “We are absolutely overjoyed to have been given the opportunity to live in this convent.  We have prayed long and hard and the Lord has opened up this way for us. It is a gift from God.”

The community, established as part of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham adopting the Benedictine rule, includes eleven sisters who had been part of the Anglican Community of St Mary the Virgin in Wantage Oxfordshire and one, Sister Carolyne Joseph, who belonged to an Anglican community in Walsingham.

With no endowments to keep them afloat financially, the sisters have been living for the last eight months as guests at an enclosed Benedictine abbey on the Isle of Wight. “The abbess and the community there shared their Benedictine life with us and welcomed us into their hearts in the most wonderfully generous way”, Mother Winsome said. “It has been a life of complete harmony and joy and it will be a wrench to leave. But we are pleased beyond measure that our journey of faith has taken this new direction”.

The provision of Benedictine hospitality through retreats is central to the community’s charism. Their intention is to earn a living at their new home by offering retreats and the ministry of spiritual direction.

The Benedictine Sisters on the Isle of Wight have been very kind in offering hospitality to the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is a mark of their generosity to the Church as a whole. The flourishing of contemplative orders is an indicator of vitality in any local Church and such communities have an impact way beyond the confines of their enclosure…

 

A Glimpse of the Ordinariate

And Damian Thompson has it.

Here are a couple of photographs taken by the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham when they celebrated Evensong and Benediction for the Feast of the Assumption last week; they’re in their new church in Warwick Street in the West End. This is what certain Anglo-Catholics in the C of E have turned down, preferring to stay in a denomination which repudiates their vision of the priesthood. Baffling.