Ordinariate Censorship? Confidentiality? Or Covert Action?

[Please don’t bite my head off again Deborah, these are just my simple observations.]

I read, with interest, a report by former ACCC priest [Fr] Michael Birch on the recent gathering in Houston as part of the formation program of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, that was posted by Deborah Gyapong on her blog, Foolishness to the World. Today, she has:

I have been asked to take the Houston post down


By Susan Gibbs, who handles communications for the Ordinariate.

The reason is possible sensitivities regarding individuals who attended the formation weekend who may be at different stages in the process.

I am happy to oblige as it is not my intention to spook anyone or get them in trouble with their present ecclesial superiors.

I hope my readers who have reposted my Houston posts will consider the sensitivities.

Wanting to join the Ordinariate has always be fraught with danger. One tends to run the very real risk of incurring the wrath of your current denomination (for lack of a better word). Compounding that risk is the possibility of being turned-down by the Catholic authorities that be. Look no further than the devastating consequences that a Catholic ‘no’ held, for example, say, Archbishop John Hepworth and Bishop David Moyer, who simply overplayed their hands!

Is this right? Is it right to be clandestine in your aspirations? Well, it may not be right, but it would certainly appear to be occupationally necessary, very necessary – in order to save your ecclesiastical hide, that is. Few and far between are the Churches who would wish their brethren wanting to leave any love or support. Even fewer (are there any?) are those who would welcome back stragglers, men who Holy Church measured, and found wanting in places. This is sad, I mean, for Christians… Actually, quite an indictment…

There were apparently some 69 candidates at the meeting in Houston, from throughout the United States and Canada, who are applying to become Catholic priests for the Ordinariate.

17 thoughts on “Ordinariate Censorship? Confidentiality? Or Covert Action?

  1. It needs to be added, Father, that this retreat seems to have been considered another stage of discernment rather than some sort of ultimate declaration, so it is quite possible that as a result some participants will choose not to continue with the process.
    Once the candidates make a firm decision, the process of preparation for Catholic ordination involves also seeking an opinion of their current Anglican/Episcopal ‘superiors’, whenever possible; so the latter are duly informed rather sooner than later, I believe.
    BTW, the UK Ordinariate contact page also mentions “full confidentiality” for inquirers.

  2. I remember asking the question “If you really want to become a Catholic, why do you still wear a collar even if you can only come in as a layman?”

    That’s probably the most painful question I’d ever ask a minister of another denomination. Because I truly want them to be a member of the Church, and they truly believe they’re called to the priesthood.

    I dunno. My circumstances aren’t exactly going to send me to the seminary, but I’ve gotta accept what God wants for me. It’s probably going to give me a lot of trouble later on if I insist that I have my way when talking about the priesthood.

  3. Oh, Also, I think the discretion exercised by the Ordinariate is prudent.

    Part of free speech is knowing when to not speak, I suppose. (Not that I’d know anything about that)

  4. I think the number of potential ordinands was closer to 50. (I was one of them.) Most had there wives and some with kids with them, which made the group closer to 100 in actual bodies attending. There were people who were in all stages of discernment. There were those who were very early on in the process and not even sure if the Ordinariate was for them to people but were certainly interested, to those who were close to getting an official ordination date and were pretty much near the very end of the discernment process. Particularly for those who were there in potentially compromising situations with their Anglican bishops, it was requested that unless you have someone’s specific permission to use their picture or name, that you not post their information on the internet, lest they get into trouble upon their return to their various ministries.

    1. I even saw you in one picture, Father, before it was duly removed 😉
      I was able to recognise you, because you looked pretty much like in the pictures which are on your blog, which I follow (though rarely comment on; BTW, the “Nativity Sets” are simply awesome!).

    2. Father, One thing that fascinates me about the Ordinariate are the cases where an Anglican/ECUSA priest believes in his innermost heart that he fully accepts what Rome teaches. How do they justify remaining outside what they now believe is the One, True Church? And one that rejects officially their current non-RC priestly sacramental ministry? Why wait once they have come to see “truth” with Rome? Makes me wonder how many really, fully accept Rome’s doctrinal positions on ALL of those areas that separated and till separate Canterbury and its heirs from Rome. Are they just looking for a safer, more permanent ecclesiastical home (esp. one that comes with pay and benefits), one where they will maintain their distinctive Anglican doctrinal…flexibility? (Please keep in mind I’m not RC, I’m EO.)

      1. Aren’t there claims that Canterbury is closer to EO in ecclesiology than to Rome? So… if Rome adopts the Collegiality model, it’d look like the Anglican communion?

        Just some musings.

      2. Well, you’ve certainly missed a little piece called “discernment” in your tirade. This move towards unity with the Catholic Church and recognising it as the Church Christ has founded is dynamic, i.e. is a process, rather than being a static all-of-the-sudden belief like you’ve described it.

      3. Cont. Cath., Psychologically there comes a point in the inner life of someone when they know in their heart they fully accept the teachings of a religious group. That is publically expressed at a later time, when they are formally received by that group. Here we have some people who appear to be in full agreement but then chose to remain outside for a lengthy period of time. I’m just trying to understand the psychology. For example, how does an Anglican/ECUSA priest who has fully acccepted Rome in their heart (including the official Roman dogmatic denial of their currently priestly ministry) then stay outside without immediately joining? That seems to say something about the strength and conviction of the person’s acceptance?

  5. I believe the number of potential ordinands present was 47 of the 69 currently in various stages of discernment. Discretion is definitely needed for those in sensitive situations; in England no one was/is able to openly come out and declare for the Ordinariate until they actually left/leave the CofE as to do so, without exaggeration, essentially invites immediate dismissal by their bishop.

  6. I know of two priests who were upfront with their Bishop about their interest in the Ordinariate and were left without a parish or income.

    It is a shame that one cannot be honest about discerning where our Lord wants them to be without fear of discrimination and being tossed out before one has the opportunity to make such an important decision.

    There are many who are very anti the Ordinariate and it appears would rather these priests become part of another Protestant denomination than become a priest in the Ordinariate.

    God’s blessing on these brave men and families for following the Holy Spirit, not knowing the outcome and trials that they might face.

    1. We call it a “sign of contradiction” when people suffer for the love of Christ. Sure, you can say these Protestant denominations are “Christians” but I never saw the same sort of malice and persecution shown these people who leave their denomination for the Catholic Church as when priests and individuals leave the Catholic Church.

  7. I can’t speak for the attitudes manifested in the USA, but my recollection of the first steps toward the establishment of the OLW Ordinariariate was that the CofE bishops were on the whole quite reasonable and in some cases remarkably tolerant and understanding. In the UK it was quite often the case that not only the vicar and also curates but also numbers of the Parochial Church Council were considering their position. The CofE published quite early on Legal Guidance on the Ordinariate which dealt with what clergy, church wardens, the parochial church council and school governors needed to consider and by and large the necessary steps followed the guidance. Very often an incumbent was allowed to stay on in the vicarage for a considerable time while alternative housing was arranged by the Catholic Church – and this was made easier by the fact that any resignation of an incumbent in a CofE parish sets in train a necessarily lengthy process (known as an “interregnum”) during which the Churchwardens arrange for neighbouring (often retired) local clergy to celebrate the Anglican offices pending the institution of a new vicar.

    There were, of course, strained relations between those who were leaving a parish for the Ordinariate and those who remained but I think the single longest lasting subject of rancour was the often instant “airbrushing out” of references to the former incumbent on parish websites.

    On the whole, I think that the legal impossibility of parish church buildings becoming anything other than the continuing CofE parish church was a blessing in disguise. We have been spared the quabbles over church property which have been such a feature of the troubles of the US Episcopal Church.

    1. On the whole yes. But in the diocese of Exeter, is happened exactly as Benedict says: To declare to the parishioners that one was considering the ordinariate was equivalent to a formal resignation. That’s why so many were flabbergasted when out of the blue their vicar told them that is was their last Sunday with them. But there are also counterexamples such as Mourad says, for example Fr. Sixtus who is advertised on the ordinariate website since at least last May as head of an ordinariate exploratory group in Abergavenny and is still curate of a large Anglican church there, without any issue being raised by his diocesan.

      + PAX et BONUM

      1. The Church of Wales is not the Church of England so a different dynamic may apply there, though by all accounts being a traditionalist in Wales is even more difficult than in England.

      2. @ Conchur: Indeed, since they have more more a flying Bishop anymore, and that since 2008. And most recently the synod has forbidden to announce the name of the celebrant in advance, so that people will not be able to avoid the priestette’s Communion Service.

        + PAX et BONUM

      3. That’s horrible (At the fact they have to attend a priestette’s faux-service)

        Couldn’t people just stand up and walk away?

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