The Ordinariate Begins

… with a discreet beginning:

The 1230 Mass today at London’s Westminster Cathedral looked like any other. But for the hint in the booklet for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, that after the homily would be a “Rite of reception and confirmation”, there was nothing at all to indicate the significance of what was to happen. The celebrant, an auxiliary bishop of Westminster, Alan Hopes, said nothing at the start of Mass, and it wasn’t until the end of a lengthy homily on Mary as Theotokos, or God-bearer, and the controversies of the fourth-century Council of Nicea which led to this Feast, that Bishop Hopes mentioned that they would be receiving some former members of the Church of England into full communion.

They included, he said, three former bishops and their relatives, as well as three Anglican nuns.

It would have been hard, if you had just dropped into the Cathedral for Mass, to understand the significance of what was happening.There was nobody around to explain that these are the founding members of the world’s first Ordinariate, the scheme created by Pope Benedict to allow for the corporate reception of Anglicans (see my previous post).

The Ordinariate will be created in the next week or so, with Rome’s legislative act expected to be announced on 11 January. The jurisdiction will be headed by an Ordinary — inevitably one of the ex-bishops received into the Church today. The ordination to the diaconate and priesthood of the three ex-bishops will take place in a couple of weeks. They will be followed at Easter, according to Ruth Gledhill of The Times — who seemed to be the only one who knew that today’s Mass was happening — by about 20 parish groups, perhaps 40-50 clergy, and a further three former bishops. 

Among the three ex-bishops received today was John Broadhurst, 68, until last night the Bishop of Fulham with pastoral care of 55 parishes across the country opposed to the ordination of women as bishops. He remains the leader of the Anglo-Catholic group of about 1,000 clergy known as Forward in Faith.

The three nuns received today are the youngest members of the popular Anglo-Catholic shrine of Walsingham, and include its former superior. Their departure leaves only four elderly religious.

I counted nine lay people also being received today; among them are two wives of the defecting ex-bishops.

The celebrant, Bishop Hopes, himself a former Anglican, spoke of their “long and challenging journey” on the road to the Catholic Church, and this, their “decisive step on the road of your discipleship”. He prayed for the “perfect unity” one day between Catholics and Anglicans. Then he spoke to those being received — but without a microphone, so the congregation could barely hear. When the microphone was restored, he told them they were now full members of the Catholic Church, and we clapped. Then it was Mass as normal.

The beginning of a historic realignment of Western Christianity thus began with an event about as unpublic and understated as it was possible to have designed. Not even members of Forward in Faith knew about it.

It is not hard to guess why. Too much fanfare and publicity now could make the Ordinariate look triumphalist, and cause ill-feeling among both Anglicans and Catholics. Much better to begin discreetly, and let it grow away from the spotlight. But perhaps just as important are the delicate sensibilities of those left behind, many of whom are wrestling with the decision of whether to follow.

So there was no press conference, no photographers — and barely a journalist in sight. The Ordinariate, one might say, began today with a very English whimper.

The Daily Mail also covers the news with: First Anglicans Convert to Catholicism under new scheme.

Jeffrey Steel was there as was Fr Seán Finnegan.


Egypt: 21 Killed in Church Car Bombing

At least 21 dead and more than 70 injured after bomb explodes outside Coptic church in Alexandria.

The Guardian (UK) reports on this horror attack:

At least 21 people have been killed and more than 70 injured in Egypt in a suspected suicide bombing outside a church in Alexandria as worshippers left a new year service.

It was initially thought a car bomb had caused the explosion just after midnight at the Coptic orthodox al-Qidiseen church. But the interior ministry suggested a foreign-backed suicide bomber may have been responsible.

The blast did not originate in any of the cars that were destroyed, a ministry statement said. “It is likely that the device which exploded was carried by a suicide bomber who died among others.”

The circumstances of the attack “clearly indicates that foreign elements undertook planning and execution”, the statement said.

The governor of Alexandria, Adel Labib, accused al-Qaida of planning the bombing. “The al-Qaida organisation threatened to attack churches inside Egypt. This has nothing to do with sectarianism,” he told state television.

His assessment was shared by Kameel Sadeeq of the city’s Coptic Christian council. “People went in to church to pray to God but ended up as scattered limbs,” he told Reuters. “This massacre has al-Qaida written all over, the same pattern al-Qaida has adopted in other countries.”…

What a terrible way to start 2011!

When are these brutal and senseless attacks on quiet and peaceful Christian minorities in Islamic states going to stop?!  

Just look at these videos and weep:


Pope Benedict XVI condemned anti-Christian violence, persecution and discrimination, along with all religious intolerance, in a New Year’s appeal that came just hours after a bomb exploded outside a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt as worshippers left Mass, killing more than 20 people.

In addition to appeals to political leaders to take concrete steps to end religious discrimination, the Holy Father issued an invitation to leaders of all the world’s religions to meet with him in Assisi this coming October to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1st World Day of Prayer for Peace.

In his homily during Mass to mark the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and again in remarks at the Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI condemned all manner of religious intolerance, and especially anti-Christian prejudice, while pointing to authentic religious freedom as the essential core of ordered liberty…

More on this here.


Iraqi Archbishop: Martyrdom May Awaken Christians Elsewhere

“For us Christians of Iraq, martyrdom is the charism of our Church,” said Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk, Iraq, as the final day of 2010 saw a string of bombings aimed at Christian targets.

The December 31 bombings, which struck the homes of Christian families in Baghdad, left 2 dead and 12 wounded, and reinforced the fears of the Christian families who have not yet fled the country. The bombs struck a neighborhood near the church of Our Lady of Salvation, the site of am October 31 massacre.

“The government is not doing anything,” said Archbishop Sako. “Attacking Christians has become a normal phenomenon in Iraq.” He voiced the hope that the bloodshed would awaken the consciences of Christians living elsewhere in the world.

The above was here.

Lord that it would…

The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church…

–  Tertullian

Let us continue in prayer and intercession for these persecuted brothers and sisters!


Holy Virgin Mary

Saint of the day:

The title “Mother of God” goes back to the third or fourth century, but the Greek term Theotokos (“The God-bearer”) was officially consecrated as Catholic doctrine at the Council of Ephesus in 431, thus becoming the first Marina dogma. At the end of the Council of Ephesus, crowds of people marched through the streets shouting: “Praised be the Theotokos!”.

This Catholic doctrine is based on the doctrine of Incarnation, as expressed by St. Paul: “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians 4:4).

In its chapter on Mary’s role in the Church, Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution “Lumen Gentium” (“Light of the People”) calls Mary “Mother of God” 12 times.

On this day the Catholic Church also celebrates the World Day of Peace…

I took this photo at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth not so long ago:

And as we stand at the start of a brand new year, I can think of no better way to begin than by focusing on the wonder that is the Incarnation of God. That He, who is Eternal, would take on human flesh, our likeness, to become one of us, and that for the purpose of our redemption, is just mind-blowing. What grace, what mercy, and what love! And the question we would do well to ask is, where would we be without God’s offer of salvation in His Son Christ Jesus? The answer, quite simply: Dead in our sins (Rom 6:23). ‘But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us’ (Rom 5:8). And God’s chosen vehicle, the one appointed to be the earthly Mother of the Incarnate God, was a young Jewish maiden, who in an act of great faith, responded to the message of an angel with the simple words that have resounded across centuries:

‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ (Lk 1:38).

What a portrait of devotion and faith!    

You may also like to look at:


A Cathedral Made From Junk

This Cathedral has been made up of reject bricks, broken tiles and is built entirely out of recycled materials:

It’s the sheer size of the structure that first strikes you. Almost 40 metres (131ft) tall, its spires and giant dome tower over the surrounding apartment blocks in this Madrid suburb.

That’s not unusual for a Spanish church. But this one is being built by an elderly man, almost single-handedly, out of junk.

Justo Gallego – or Don Justo, as he’s known – embarked on his epic endeavour almost half a century ago.

Now 85 years old, he still has a huge amount to do…

“I do it for faith. That’s clear, no?” the energetic octogenarian wonders, pausing to warm himself by an open fire.

“My mother was very pious. She taught me my faith and I love the Church. So I put everything into this.”

But as a printed statement on the wall declares, Justo Gallego is “not an architect or a bricklayer” and has “no training related to construction”…

His church has no planning permission or formal architectural plans. All the details, Justo says, are “in my head”.

Partly modelled on St Peter’s in the Vatican, Justo claims his construction also borrows from the White House, various castles and other Madrid churches. It’s an eclectic mix…

People have called me crazy and insulted me. But they’re ignorant,” Justo says defiantly, during a guided tour of his life’s work.

“When I look at what I’ve created, it overwhelms me and I give thanks to the Lord.”…

What faith!

Do read the rest here.


Anglican Ordinariate Breaking News

via the grapevine:

… five former Anglican bishops, their wives and three former Anglican nuns from Walshinghas are to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Chuch at 12.30pm tomorrow, New Years Day, at Westminster Cathedral.

I presume that the former bishops concerned (and their former dioceses) are: Andrew Burnham (Ebbsfleet), Keith Newton (Richborough), John Broadhurst (Fulham), Edwin Barnes (assistant bishop, Winchester) and David Silk (assistant bishop, Exeter).

This will be the first step on the road to the eventual establishment of the Ordinariate for former Anglicans who wish to be in full communion with the Catholic Church.

I have found nothing about this anywhere on the internet, which all seems rather strange. It is, surely, a momentous occasion.

Let’s see what happens…

UPDATE I:   It seems as if it will happen:

UPDATE II:  Or, maybe, not… at least not quite yet:

Following my post yesterday I have received information to the effect that three of the five former Anglican bishops received into the Catholic Church this morning will be ordained to the diaconate on January 13th and then to the priesthood two days later on January 15th, all pointing towards the setting up of an Ordinariate for England and Wales in the first half of January. Let’s see.

Yes, the absence of reporting by the larger Catholic media / secular news corporations was the telling factor here.

UPDATE III:   Notwithstanding, it indeed appears as if reception has taken place!