June 18, 2012 14 Comments
I think my family and friends in Britain have been blest greatly with a triumvirate at the head of your Ordinariate in Britain. While one must necessarily be appointed to make the final decisions, having a council of three at the top is a far better situation than having one leader in isolation. Even if in Britain this is more ad hoc than a canonical structure, I would hope this sort of triumvirate model would become the norm for the Ordinariates. Msgr. Newton has shown great, great wisdom through it.
Of course, it would be different in North America and in Australia. My family and friends in Australia might imagine the Ordinary being named and then two others raised up (as Monsignors of the Protonotary Apostolic or something like it) who would perhaps be former bishops in TAC, the Australian Anglican Church or former priests of the same. It would be incredibly wise to create from the marvellous incoming Church in Torres Strait such a Monsignor to serve in this triumvirate.
In North America it would make sense to create such a triumvirate under Msgr. Steenson as well. The territory is vast, and the Ordinariate is not the only expression of the Anglican Patrimony in the Catholic Church in North America. By way of example, a former Anglican Catholic bishop in Canada would make an excellent choice as another Monsignor with oversight for the Canadian deanery. And it would be prudent and very wise to make the senior pastor of the Pastoral Provision parishes also a Monsignor with similar oversight responsibilities among those in the Pastoral Provision but serving in concert with his brother in Canada and together with Msgr Steenson’s leadership of the Ordinariate.
I offer these thoughts to my family and friends who are far more influential than I. No one seems much interested in what a lay hermit in Texas thinks of these things. So I entrust the ideas to you if they are worthy. The one thing that has become clear to me is that a single Ordinary with a Vicar General and an office assitant is an irreduceable minimum that should have been given more provisions for the journey by Rome. It is too small an organisational model to be effective with so great a missionary task.
I know some will say, But look here! In North America, the Ordinary has got health insurance for us this May. And look at all of the men being ordained through the training programme he developed. I am in no way trying to take away from these stellar achievements. One should applaud the Ordinary right heartily for being willing to take up a task where Rome provided no money and the USCCB offered no immediate help with Insurance from the get go. We see that as an historian and a scholar he is absolutely the right person for all of these tasks at the onset. There are other considerations though where he would be well served to have brothers — a Msgr. ‘Canada’ and a Msgr. ‘Pastoral Provision’ with which to work in this common mission.
What has developed in England from Msgr. Newton’s excellent leadership and vision is clearly a model worth repeating. And it really is worth reapting everywhere an Ordinariate is established or where they might be a mixed situation like that in North America … say in India for example. My family in India have some very clear thoughts about these things, but sadly… and it is sad that this is the case across the board, there is only the most limited collaboration with the Laity in Christ of the Anglican Patrimony, a matter that should be corrected post haste. Bishops and priests don’t make the Church. Jesus Christ and all of His Faithful make the Church.
Perhaps it’s just that the harvest in England and Wales was envisaged to be bigger than in other (future) Ordinariates? Or maybe the Holy Father intended – and made – a decisive statement with the initial appointment of the three as Monsignors? One has to believe that even though Msgr Steenson, and now Fr Entwistle following, have to cover a far wider geographic expanse than that overseen by Msgrs Newton, Broadhurst, and Burnham in the UK, they do also enjoy and have the support of the already existing Catholic diocesan structures. Moreover, it must be pointed out that Msgr Keith Newton is the Ordinary; Msgrs Broadhurst and Burnham are ‘Assistants to the Ordinary’, one holding the financial portfolio, and the other responsibe for liturgical provisions and the formation and training of candidates for Holy Orders.
Personal Ordinariates are delimited geographically. One would thus expect them to work more closely with the Conference of Catholic Bishops, the canonical entity governing the territory in which the Ordinariate exists and operates, than they would with one another. Additionally, I (and help me here if I’m wrong) can see absolutely no reason why the Catholic Bishops should not be working very closely with the Ordinary (the fact that this is so seems to be Christian Clay Columba Campbell’s main gripe over here). They are, after all, of One Church. So as the respective Ordinariates continue to grow and become more and more self-supporting, it is reasonable then to expect further appointments and/or autonomous organisation.