Ordination to the Priesthood of Reverend John Broadhurst, Reverend Andrew Burnham, Reverend Keith Newton.
Westminster Cathedral, Saturday 15 January 2011
Archbishop Vincent Nichols’ homily
Many ordinations have taken place in this Cathedral during the 100 years of its history. But none quite like this. Today is a unique occasion marking a new step in the life and history of the Catholic Church. This morning the establishment of the first Personal Ordinariate under the provision of the Apostolic Constitution ‘Anglicanorum Coetibus’ has been announced in our hearing. So I too salute John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton who are to be the first priests of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. In particular I offer my prayers and best wishes to Keith, chosen by the Holy Father to be its first Ordinary.
This is indeed an historic moment. In these opening words I welcome you warmly, Keith, Andrew and John. You have distinguished pasts, full of real achievements. Now, ahead of you, you have an important and demanding future! In welcoming you I recognise fully the demands of the journey you have made together with your families, with its many years of thought and prayer, painful misunderstandings, conflict and uncertainty. I want, in particular, to recognise your dedication as priests and bishops of the Church of England and affirm the fruitfulness of your ministry.
I thank so many in the Church of England who have recognised your sincerity and integrity in making this journey and who have assured you of their prayers and good wishes. First among these is Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury, with his characteristic insight, and generosity of heart and spirit.
This journey, of course, involves some sad parting of friends. This, too, we recognise and it strengthens the warmth of our welcome.
Of course it was John Henry Newman who spoke movingly of this ‘sad parting of friends’. We thank our Holy Father Pope Benedict for not only placing this Ordinariate under the protection of Our Lady of Walsingham but also for giving it Blessed John Henry Newman as its patron.
At Lambeth Palace, in September, Pope Benedict said: ‘In the figure of John Henry Newman we celebrate a churchman whose ecclesial vision was nurtured by his Anglican background and matured during his many years of ordained ministry in the Church of England. He can teach us the virtues that ecumenism demands: on the one hand, he was moved to follow his conscience, even at great personal cost; and on the other hand, the warmth of his continued friendship with his former colleagues led him to explore with them, in a truly eirenical spirit, the questions on which they differed, driven by a deep longing for unity in faith.’ (Lambeth Palace, 18 September 2010)
Then, speaking in Rome on 20 December, Pope Benedict reflected further on Cardinal Newman. He spoke these words. They are of relevance and hope for today:
‘The path of Newman’s conversions is a path of conscience – not a path of self-asserting subjectivity but, on the contrary, a path of obedience to the truth that was gradually opening up to him. His third conversion, to Catholicism, required him to give up almost everything that was dear and precious to him: possessions, profession, academic rank, family ties and many friends. The sacrifice demanded of him by obedience to the truth, by his conscience, went further still. Newman had always been aware of having a mission for England. But in the Catholic theology of his time, his voice could hardly make itself heard…
In January 1863 he wrote in his diary these distressing words: “As a Protestant, I felt my religion dreary, but not my life ‐ but, as a Catholic, my life dreary, not my religion”. He had not yet arrived at the hour when he would be an influential figure. In the humility and darkness of obedience, he had to wait until his message was taken up and understood. In support of the claim that Newman’s concept of conscience matched the modern subjective understanding, people often quote a letter in which he said – should he have to propose a toast – that he would drink first to conscience and then to the Pope. But in this statement, “conscience” does not signify the ultimately binding quality of subjective intuition. It is an expression of the accessibility and the binding force of truth: on this its primacy is based. The second toast can be dedicated to the Pope because it is his task to demand obedience to the truth.’ (December 20, 2010)
Today we thank the Holy Father for the courageous leadership he gives in establishing the first Personal Ordinariate. His intentions are clear. It is, as he has said, ‘a prophetic gesture’. It is to contribute to the wider goal of visible unity between our two Churches by helping us to know in practice how our patrimonies of faith and living can strengthen each other in our mission today. At Oscott College, the Holy Father said to us bishops: ‘It (the Ordinariate) helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all.’
The visible unity of the Church, then, is central to our thoughts today. Indeed, it was never far from the heart of St Paul as is well expressed in his Letter to the Ephesians and, a little earlier, to the Philippians. His appeal is steadfast: that believing in Christ as Lord, that sharing in one Spirit, that worship of one God and Father create a unity which must be constantly served by the practice of humility, gentleness, patience and love. In Philippians he is more explicit about the attitudes and behaviours that threaten this unity: selfish ambition for the power of office; the search for personal approval or prestige; a focus on the importance of self within a competitive spirit, all taking us away from ‘the mind of Christ Jesus’. (cf Phil 2.1‐5).
History shows how right he is. These patterns of failure mark our histories. They also find expression in the lives of each of us today. So we ask pardon for our failings and seek to renew within ourselves that mind of Christ Jesus himself.
The quest for the visible unity of the Church remains an imperative. In it the role of the successor of St Peter is crucial. Pope Benedict expressed it thus in Westminster Abbey: ‘Fidelity to the word of God, precisely because it is a true word, demands of us an obedience which leads us together to a deeper understanding of the Lord’s will, an obedience which must be free of intellectual conformism or facile accommodation to the spirit of the age. This is the word of encouragement which I wish to leave with you this evening, and I do so in fidelity to my ministry as the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Saint Peter, charged with a particular care for the unity of Christ’s flock.’ (Westminster Abbey, 18 Sept 2010)
The Pope’s ministry to the visible unity of the Church is central to the faith of the Catholic Church. It is central to the faith of those who enter into full communion in this Ordinariate. It is central to the welcome, encouragement and support the Catholic community in England and Wales gives to this development and to all who seek to be part of it.
In his Letter to the Ephesians, St Paul speaks about the variety of gifts given to the community of believers. While recognising that variety, in this Mass we focus, in particular, on the gift of the ordained priesthood within the Catholic Church. It is a priesthood which takes it shape, its purpose, its experience from the Cross of Christ, the great cross above us, referred to so movingly by Pope Benedict. Through this ordained priesthood, the one, same sacrifice of Christ is made real at the altar and offered again to the Eternal Father. It is made present as the sacrament of our salvation. This Mass, every Mass, is at once the prayer of Christ and the prayer of the Body of Christ, his people. Through it Christ constitutes the Church afresh each day, both in Himself and in its visible unity, in the world. This is the work of the ordained priest – the daily constituting of the Church ‐ and it is a priceless gift and service for which we thank God constantly. To this one sacrifice we bring our own small sacrifices, the losses and hardships we carry through failure and sin, through the pursuit of truth and love, through the passing of time. All is offered to the Father in one sacrifice of praise to become a means of our salvation.
In today’s Gospel passage from St. John, we have heard again of the appearance of the Risen Christ to his disciples. At that moment he brought to them the fruits of his triumph over death: the forgiveness of sins and the gift of peace. Here too we come to the work of the ordained priest: to pronounce with confidence the forgiveness of God and to bring peace to a troubled soul and a troubled world.
To this service, to this ministry we welcome our three priests today. But we must be attentive to the words of the Gospel. In bestowing these gifts, the Risen Lord also employs an eloquent gesture: he shows them his hands and his side.
He shows them his wounds. The mission they receive, the mission of reconciliation, comes from the wounds of Christ. This is the mission we share and at every Mass we once again gaze on the wounded, broken body of the risen Lord. Our mission is characterised by woundedness: a mission to a wounded world; a mission entrusted to a wounded Church, carried out by wounded disciples. The wounds of sin are our business. The wounds of Christ, even though we have caused them, are also our consolation and strength.
The first to witness these wounds, the first, perhaps, to grasp their true significance, was Mary, Mother of Jesus. Standing at the foot of the cross she witnessed the inflicting of those wounds. Holding his dead body she must have been marked by the blood shed from them. Now she looks down on our new priests from the other side of this Cathedral crucifix above me. Mary always holds before us her Son, presenting him to us as our hope and salvation. Nowhere does she do so with more grace and elegance than in the image of Our Lady of Walsingham. As this Ordinariate, her Ordinariate, comes into being so may we entrust to her the work of bringing it to fulfilment.
Our Lady of Walsingham: pray for us.
Blessed John Henry Newman: pray for us.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Download it in pdf here.
Holy See Press Office has just released the following statement about the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and Wales:
In accordance with the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus of Pope Benedict XVI (November 4, 2009) and after careful consultation with the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has today erected a Personal Ordinariate within the territory of England and Wales for those groups of Anglican clergy and faithful who have expressed their desire to enter into full visible communion with the Catholic Church. The Decree of Erection specifies that the Ordinariate will be known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and will be placed under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman.
A Personal Ordinariate is a canonical structure that provides for corporate reunion in such a way that allows former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of their distinctive Anglican patrimony. With this structure, the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be fully integrated into the Catholic Church.
For doctrinal reasons the Church does not, in any circumstances, allow the ordination of married men as Bishops. However, the Apostolic Constitution does provide, under certain conditions, for the ordination as Catholic priests of former Anglican married clergy. Today at Westminster Cathedral in London, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, ordained to the Catholic priesthood three former Anglican Bishops: Reverend Andrew Burnham, Reverend Keith Newton, and Reverend John Broadhurst.
Also today Pope Benedict XVI has nominated Reverend Keith Newton as the first Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Together with Reverend Burnham and Reverend Broadhurst, Reverend Newton will oversee the catechetical preparation of the first groups of Anglicans in England and Wales who will be received into the Catholic Church together with their pastors at Easter, and to accompany the clergy preparing for ordination to the Catholic priesthood around Pentecost.
The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church. The initiative leading to the publication of the Apostolic Constitution and the erection of this Personal Ordinariate came from a number of different groups of Anglicans who have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. For them, the time has now come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued the Decree of Erection:
The Ordinariate – a world first – will be known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and it will function under the patronage of the Blessed John Henry Newman.
A message from the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, His Eminence Cardinal William Levada, that was read out at Westminster Cathedral at the ordination to the priesthood of Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton:
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Ordination to the Priesthood of our three friends, Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton, is an occasion of great joy both for them and for the wider Church. I had very much wished to be present with you in Westminster Cathedral today in order to demonstrate my own personal support for them as they make this important step. Unfortunately, however, a long standing commitment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to meet with the Bishops and theologians of India in Bangalore has meant that I am unable to be in London today. I am very happy, therefore, to have the opportunity of sending this message and am grateful to Archbishop Nichols for agreeing to represent me and for his willingness to deliver my best wishes.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has today published a Decree erecting the first Personal Ordinariate for groups of Anglican faithful and their pastors wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. This new Ordinariate, established within the territory of England and Wales, will be known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and will be placed under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman. Its establishment, which marks a unique and historic moment in the life of the Catholic Community in this country, is the first fruit of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, issued by Pope Benedict XVI on 4 November 2009. It is my fervent hope that, by enabling what the Holy Father calls “a mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies”, the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham will bring great blessings not only on those directly involved in it, but upon the whole Church.
Also today the Holy Father has nominated Reverend Keith Newton as the first Ordinary of this Personal Ordinanate. Together with Reverend Burnham and Reverend Broadhurst, Keith Newton will oversee the catechetical preparation of the first groups of Anglicans in England and Wales who will be received into the Catholic Church together with their pastors at Easter, and will accompany the clergy preparing for ordination to the Catholic priesthood around Pentecost. I urge you all to assist the new Ordinary in the unique mission which has been entrusted to him not only with your prayers but also with every practical support.
In conclusion, I offer my personal and heartfelt best wishes to these three Catholic priests. I pray that God will abundantly bless them, and also those other clergy and faithful who are preparing to join them in full communion with the Catholic Church. In the midst of the uncertainty that every period of transition inevitably brings I wish to assure you all of our admiration for you, and of our prayerful solidarity.
At an audience granted to me by Pope Benedict XVI on 14 January 2001, His Holiness asked me to convey to you that he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing upon the ordinandi Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton, together with their wives and family members and upon all other participants in this solemn rite.
Entrusting you confidently to the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham, and to the intercession of the great saints and martyrs of England and Wales, I am
Yours sincerely in Christ,
William Cardinal Levada
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
(Download the above in pdf here.)
What a momentous day!
See also the Catholic Herald with:
The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has just been established with Keith Newton as Ordinary.
Wikipedia has an entry on Keith Newton here.
Here is a Statement from him just released:
I am humbled to have been appointed by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, as the first Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate to be erected in Great Britain under the provisions set out in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. This is not an honour I have sought or expected but I pray that God will give me the wisdom and grace to live up to the trust the Holy Father has placed in me.
My wife and family have been a great support to me throughout my ministry and I know they will continue to do so. I am delighted that Gill was received with me into the full communion of the Catholic Church at Westminster Cathedral on 1 January 2011.
I can look back at over 35 years of ordained ministry with tremendous gratitude. The Church of England nourished me in the Christian Faith and it was within her that I discovered, as a teenager, my vocation to the ordained ministry which has involved service both in England and Africa. I do not see my reception into the Catholic Church as a radical break but part of the on‐going pilgrimage of faith which began at my baptism. Since my teenage years I have longed and prayed for corporate unity with the Catholic Church and the publication of the Apostolic Constitution has offered the possibility of realising that dream.
I am particularly grateful to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, for his patience and graciousness with those of us who have been exploring our way forward over the last few months.
The Catholic Church, both here and in Rome, have given me warm encouragement in making this step and I am grateful for the countless words and signs of welcome I have received from many members of the Catholic Church over recent days. I hope the Ordinariate will be a gift to the Catholic Church and that I, together with those priests and people who join the Ordinariate, will be of service to the whole Church.
People who are at the event are:
One can expect that all eyes will be on Westminster Cathedral in London today, as the Catholic Church prepares to receive as priests, three former Anglican bishops. The ordination of John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham, and Keith Newton, who were made deacons in a modest ceremony at Allen Hall seminary in London a fortnight ago, will for all intents and purposes mark the inauguration of the ‘Ordinariate’, which is intended to provide a safe refuge and home in the Roman Catholic Church for disaffected (former) Anglicans.
It comes as Rome has listened to the pleas of traditional Anglicans who simply could not stay in communion with a church that so unilaterally broke in the received faith, primarily by ordaining women to the priesthood. That schismatic act of defiance has spiralled totally out of control resulting in liturgical revisions that have now culminated in approved rites for the ordination of practicing homosexual and lesbian persons (to both the priesthood and episcopate), lay celebration of the sacraments, as well as prayers and blessings for same-sex unions, divorces and even after abortion. With ecumenical hopes lying shattered, and acts of apostasy abounding, Pope Benedict XVI graciously stepped in and generously reached out by making a historic offer that will see corporate unity for desiring Anglican faithful, while even allowing for the retention of certain (approved) aspects of their Anglican patrimony.
The Ordinariate will function from today on as a kind of diocese, initially in England and Wales – which one supposes is fitting and right given the fact that this is the ‘home’ of Anglicanism – but it is expected to soon go global.
Initial estimates with regards to the size of the Ordinariate vary greatly but ballpark figures are about 50 priests at first, with more to follow. As for laity, one can but speculate for now.
The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has already set aside £250,000 to get the Ordinariate up and running.
That the events of a little later on today are an action and work of the Holy Spirit of God in this time and place in history simply cannot be denied. Perhaps a comment recently passed in The Portal, a new monthly magazine aimed at providing an independent review in service of the Ordinariate, I thought, is a great summation and one most challenging:
If you are a Catholic and believe the Catholic Faith, why are you not a member of the Catholic Church?
Events are scheduled to begin at 10:30 am London time. The Archbishop of Westminster, The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, will perform the Ordinations.
For those of us in distant parts of the globe, we look on with hope, admiration and awe. Our prayers are with you.