‘The Ordinariate is a precious gift from Pope Benedict XVI to the entire Church. It is first and foremost an act of genuine ecumenism. It allows former Anglicans to bring important parts of their great treasury of music, liturgy and spirituality with them into the Catholic Church. Now, when Anglicans enter the Catholic Church, they have generously been given the means to maintain important parts of their patrimony and so feel fully at home. The beauty of Anglican liturgies will also strengthen the Catholic Church and the unity it provides will strengthen Christianity’.
The Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP
‘The presence of the Risen Christ calls all of us Christians to act together in the cause of good. United in Christ, we are called to share his mission, which is to bring hope to wherever injustice, hatred and desperation prevail. Our divisions dim our witness to Christ. The goal of full unity, which we await in active hope and for which we pray trustingly, is no secondary victory but an important one for the good of the human family.
In the dominant culture today, the idea of victory is often associated with instant success. In the Christian perspective, on the contrary, victory is a long, and in our human eyes, not always uncomplicated process of transformation and growth in goodness. It happens in accordance with God’s time, not ours, and requires of us deep faith and patient perseverance. Although the Kingdom of God bursts definitively into history with Jesus’ Resurrection, it has not yet come about fully. The final victory will only be won with the Second Coming of the Lord, which we await with patient hope.
Our expectation of the visible unity of the Church must also be patient and trusting. Only in this frame of mind do our prayers and our daily commitment to Christian unity find their full meaning. The attitude of patient waiting does not mean passivity or resignation but rather a prompt and attentive response to every possibility of communion and brotherhood that the Lord gives us.
…I would like to entrust to St Paul’s intercession all those who, with their prayers and their commitment, are sparing no effort in the cause of Christian unity. Although, at times, one has the impression that there is still a long way to go to reach the reestablishment of communion and that the road is fraught with obstacles, I invite all to renew their determination to pursue, with courage and generosity, the unity which is God’s will, after the example of St Paul who, in the face of every kind of difficulty always firmly kept his trust in God which led to the fulfilment of his work.
Moreover, on this journey there is no lack of positive signs of rediscovered brotherhood and of a shared sense of responsibility for the great problems that are afflicting our world. All this is a cause of joy and of great hope and must encourage us to continue in our endeavour to reach the final goal all together, knowing that in the Lord our effort is not in vain (cf. 1 Cor 15:58). Amen’.
from his homily on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, 2012, by Pope Benedict XVI
‘In my own case I was moved away from the rationalistic island mentality of a conservative Englishman, to a truly Catholic – that is universal – perspective. My mind, imagination, heart and soul were stretched. I had tried to package my God into being an English God: somewhat effete, consoling, and so understanding as to be undemanding. The relativism in faith and morals of many Anglican parishioners was summed up for me by one lady who had told me, “I love the Church of England, because it does not make any demands on you!” Like the National Health Service, the Church of England was the final state-approved emergency service to be used as and when you wished.
In my young arrogance [as an Anglican curate] I thought that I was not part of such a compromised Christianity and that I could change individual attitudes and whole congregations. Yet, I too had compartmentalised God and certainly thought I had my faith and my calling under decent middle-class control… How could I witness to truth and the universality of the faith in a denomination which had broken from the traditions and teachings of the Catholic Church? The institutionalised state Church here had more than stifled universality. The concept of authority had been rejected and thereby the teaching on faith and morals was Anglicised, almost in a politically correct way.
…It is not that I have rejected Anglicanism, only that Anglicanism wasn’t universal enough. Anglicanism is forever linked to England, and ecumenical work as an Anglican can only ever begin from that basis. As a Catholic, on the other hand, one works from a universal foundation… So I have come to understand more of our faith which I recognise now as the universal reconciliation and love offered by Christ on the Cross. The English cannot restrict such a Christianity to themselves and their own requirements, nor must I ever think again that I have got God boxed up, or figured out’.
from his chapter ‘Conversion and Ecumenism’, in ‘The Path to Rome: Modern Journeys to the Catholic Church’, 2010, by Neville Kyrke-Smith.
‘Far from being a portrayal of Protestantism (as some might say), the Church of England’s reconciliation with Rome would be its vindication and fulfilment. It would be neither a triumph for Anglo-Catholicism, nor a defeat for Evangelicalism. Certainly it would fulfil many aspirations of the Oxford Movement leaders who began their work 150 years ago with reunion at the centre of their hopes and prayers, but it would also rejoice the hearts of the sixteenth century reformers to find their insights welcomed into, and acknowledged by, the Roman Catholic Church, through a union which leaves unharmed their cherished traditions.
John de Satgé has written: “If indeed Anglicanism is, as I hope, to lose its independence within the Catholic unity, it will be because its vocation is fulfilled. Rome has at last listened and learned. That which was held in trust for the whole Church within the Anglican boundaries has had its effect. Anglican return to Rome would signify not failure but success”.
We have come a long way: but one step more’.
from ‘One Step More between Rome and Canterbury’, 1982, by Fr Michael Rear
‘Members of the Ordinariate… bring to the Catholic Church an experience and painful memory of what happens to a Christian community when clerical leaders permit a widening of the gap between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. It is sometimes joked that the only moral principle upon which all members of the C of E can agree is that a failure to separate one’s recyclable rubbish from the food scrapes bin is gravely anti-social behaviour. If the only thing uniting a community is the desire for the community to hold together regardless of the actual beliefs and values of those in the community, then that community may well hold together as a mutual social welfare support service for the weaker members who rely on social welfare, but it will lose its character as a church, as an ecclesial body, and it will hold no attraction for the stronger members of the community who don’t go to church for the free cup of tea and opportunity to pick over the goods on offer at the second-hand clothes stall. If the provision of social welfare, kindness, care and concern, rather than a common creed, becomes the glue that holds a group together, then the sacramental participation in the life of the Trinity will be very much occluded and ecclesial communities will become hard to distinguish from gatherings of secular humanists and political moralists. To Catholics who are tempted to go down that route, members of the Ordinariate can attest with some high degree of authority based on experience that it does nothing to improve the numbers of bottoms on pews on Sunday.
From Rome the Ordinariate initially received the gift of St John Paul II’s high sacramental theology of marriage which situates human sexuality into the context of the creative love within the Trinity. Arguably this is the intellectual antidote to the Church of England’s historic weakness in the field of moral theology. Where good and evil is concerned, the Anglican disposition of opting for the middle position is not always the best policy.
The fact that the Ordinariate has its own Divine Worship books is an assurance that the English heritage will be respected, that the principle of ‘unity with distinctiveness’ which avoids absorption will prevail. However realised ecumenism does not allow for unity of communion without unity of faith. The Ordinariate can therefore be a model of receptive ecumenism morphing into a realised ecumenism insofar as its members become the purveyors of both transcendent liturgical worship and sound catechetical preaching.
The Ordinariate is not however merely a model of successful receptive ecumenism, it is also potentially a model of re-weaving the tapestry ecumenism. Running through the tapestry as a central thread is a Christocentric Trinitarian sacramental theology that finds its highest expression in the liturgy. While common garden variety Catholics are re-weaving parts of the tapestry by recourse to the theological work of the ressourcement scholars, Ordinariate Catholics can help to re-weave other bits of the tapestry by recourse to the works of the Caroline Divines, members of the Oxford movement and writers like Coleridge and T. S. Eliot’.
from a paper entitled Ecumenism: What Future? given in 2017 in honour of the fifth anniversary
of the erection of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross
by Prof Tracey Rowland
‘[T]he Ordinariate’s championing of elements of the traditions of Anglicanism can re-introduce Catholics in this country to their own Catholic heritage. There is a common assumption among English Catholics (it was certainly prevalent in my own Catholic schooling) that the Catholic faith disappeared in this country in 1536 and re-started again in 1850. There was simply an intermission, like turning your computer on and off. It was in no way acknowledged that the form of Catholicism restored in 1850 was in many ways unlike that of the middle ages, drawing its identity and spirituality from sources unknown to medieval English Catholicism. Accordingly, the names of Richard Rolle, Julian of Norwich, St Edith of Wilton, St Wilfrid, St Frideswide are virtually unknown to modern English Catholics. They are all there, in the Customary. The Ordinariate can help re-present a Catholicism whose spirituality, language, customs and music are grounded in these islands; whose mysticism draws upon not only upon St Theresa of Avila but also the Cloud of Unkowning; not only upon Francis de Sales but also Aelred of Rievaulx; whose piety, as well as Italian and baroque, is also forged in the mists and vales of England; who honours Mary not only at Lourdes and Fatima but also at Walsingham; whose liturgical seasons, as well as marching to the mighty beat of Rome, also recall the native footfall of Sarum. Of course, it is easy to be romantic and over-precious about this, and many have fallen into that trap. Moreover, Catholicism is vigorous because it is universal, and English Catholicism today boasts many cultural strands which enrich and strengthen it. But Anglicanism in particular has preserved something unique, a rich and distinctive flavour of Catholicism that was moulded in this land throughout a millennium, and which will enrich our national treasury of spirituality.
…[T]he Ordinariate has a rich potential for ecumenical endeavour which is only just starting to be realised. It has in particular a mission to bring to the fore, for both Catholic and Anglican audiences, those same Catholic elements within the Anglican tradition which were noted by Vatican II, elements within Anglicanism in which the Catholic Church sees itself and which are features impelling us to unity. These elements have a magnetic pull, drawing us together. The Ordinariate has a unique role in distinguishing these elements and, both directly and indirectly, encouraging, reminding and urging onward Catholics and Anglicans in their pilgrimage towards Christian Unity’.
from a talk given to the clergy of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
12 February 2015, by, Mgr Mark Langham
‘It was not Jesus’ practise to change his disciples’ names: apart from the nickname “sons of thunder”, which in specific circumstances he attributed to the sons of Zebedee and never used again. He never gave any of his disciples a new name.
Yet, he gave one to Simon, calling him “Cephas”. This name was later translated into Greek as Petros and into Latin as Petrus. And it was translated precisely because it was not only a name; it was a “mandate” that Petrus received in that way from the Lord. The new name Petrus was to recur frequently in the Gospels and ended by replacing “Simon”, his original name.
This fact acquires special importance if one bears in mind that in the Old Testament, a change of name usually preceded the entrustment of a mission.
…‘Peter will be the rocky foundation on which he will build the edifice of the Church; he will have the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to open or close it to people as he sees fit; lastly, he will be able to bind or to loose, in the sense of establishing or prohibiting whatever he deems necessary for the life of the Church. It is always Christ’s Church, not Peter’s.
…This pre-eminent position that Jesus wanted to bestow upon Peter is also encountered after the Resurrection: Jesus charges the women to announce it especially to Peter, as distinct from the other Apostles; it is to Peter and John that Mary Magdalene runs to tell them that the stone has been rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, and John was to stand back to let Peter enter first when they arrived at the empty tomb.
Then, Peter was to be the first witness of an appearance of the Risen One. His role, decisively emphasised, marks the continuity between the pre-eminence he had in the group of the Apostles and the pre-eminence he would continue to have in the community born with the paschal events, as the Book of Acts testifies.
His behaviour was considered so decisive that it prompted remarks as well as criticism.
At the so-called Council of Jerusalem Peter played a directive role, and precisely because he was a witness of authentic faith, Paul himself recognised that he had a certain quality of “leadership”.
Moreover, the fact that several of the key texts that refer to Peter can be traced back to the context of the Last Supper, during which Christ conferred upon Peter the ministry of strengthening his brethren, shows that the ministry entrusted to Peter was one of the constitutive elements of the Church, which was born from the commemoration of the Pasch celebrated in the Eucharist.
This contextualisation of the Primacy of Peter at the Last Supper, at the moment of the Institution of the Eucharist, the Lord’s Pasch, also points to the ultimate meaning of this Primacy: Peter must be the custodian of communion with Christ for all time. He must guide people to communion with Christ; he must ensure that the net does not break, and consequently that universal communion endures. Only together can we be with Christ, who is Lord of all.
Thus, Peter is responsible for guaranteeing communion with Christ with the love of Christ, guiding people to fulfil this love in everyday life. Let us pray that the Primacy of Peter, entrusted to poor human beings, will always be exercised in this original sense as the Lord desired, and that its true meaning will therefore always be recognised by the brethren who are not yet in full communion with us’.
from a general audience, 7 June 2006, given by Pope Benedict XVI
‘The Catholic Church, both in her praxis and in her solemn documents, holds that the communion of the particular Churches with the Church of Rome, and of their Bishops with the Bishop of Rome, is – in God’s plan – an essential requisite of full and visible communion. Indeed full communion, of which the Eucharist is the highest sacramental manifestation, needs to be visibly expressed in a ministry in which all the Bishops recognise that they are united in Christ and all the faithful find confirmation for their faith. The first part of the Acts of the Apostles presents Peter as the one who speaks in the name of the apostolic group and who serves the unity of the community - all the while respecting the authority of James, the head of the Church in Jerusalem. This function of Peter must continue in the Church so that under her sole Head, who is Jesus Christ, she may be visibly present in the world as the communion of all his disciples.
Do not many of those involved in ecumenism today feel a need for such a ministry? A ministry which presides in truth and love so that the ship – that beautiful symbol which the World Council of Churches has chosen as its emblem – will not be buffeted by the storms and will one day reach its haven’.
from the encyclical Ut Unum Sint: On Commitment to Ecumenism, 25 May 1995
by Pope St John Paul II, 1920-2005
O God, who art rich in mercy and who didst will that Saint John Paul the Second should preside as Pope over thy Universal Church: grant, we pray; that instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole Redeemer of mankind; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Nine years ago today came the news from Rome (announced by William Cardinal Levada) and London (announced at a joint press conference by the Archbishops of Westminster and Canterbury) that the Holy See was to establish the provision of personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into the Catholic Church. It was an historic day, one that I recall vividly as I sat reading the news, with a giddy head and pounding heart, at the desk in the study of my Anglican rectory in Calgary. Whilst it wasn’t easy to take in the magnitude of what was being heralded, my instinctive reaction was one of unbounded joy and excitement. I ran up the stairs, calling to my wife: ‘They’ve done it! They’ve made a home for us!’ I was an immediate and enthusiastic convert, eager to learn the detail of this offer (the actual document, the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, wouldn’t be published for another twenty days), and to share what was being offered with my parishioners, in hope – though not necessarily expectation – that they would share my enthusiasm for exploring what this might mean, in practical terms, for our small Anglican community.
Just over two years later, and after much discussion, prayer, study, and constructive negotiation with our Anglican brethren in the local diocese, we entered into the fulness of Catholic communion with the Successor of Saint Peter, ‘lock, stock, and barrel’, as it were. And so this newly-minted Catholic community of the Ordinariate began a fresh chapter in its century-old life, having succeeded in the goal of all true ecumenical dialogue – realised ecumenism – which is only possible within what Blessed John Henry Newman memorably called, ‘the one fold of the Redeemer’.
St John’s, Calgary continues its life and mission as one of the founding parishes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, and my prayers today on this anniversary are for its clergy and people as they endeavour to preserve the great treasures – spiritual, liturgical, and pastoral – of our Anglican patrimony, and share them with the wider Church to which they are now happily joined. Oh, yes, and a prayer of thanksgiving is also due to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, without whom none of us in the Ordinariate would be where we are today!
O Lord Jesus Christ, who, when thou wast about to suffer, didst pray for thy disciples to the end of time that they might all be one, as thou art in the Father, and the Father in thee, look down in pity on the manifold divisions among those who profess thy faith, and heal the many wounds which the pride of man and the craft of Satan have inflicted upon thy people. Break down the walls of separation which divide one party and denomination of Christians from another… and bring them all into that one communion which thou didst set up in the beginning, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Teach all men that the see of Saint Peter, the Holy Church of Rome, is the foundation, centre, and instrument of unity. Open their hearts to the long-forgotten truth that our Holy Father, the Pope, is thy Vicar and Representative; and that in obeying him in matters of religion, they are obeying thee, so that as there is but one holy company in heaven above, so likewise there may be but one communion, confessing and glorifying thy holy Name here below. Amen.
Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
‘The great day dawned, and fourteen thousand English Catholics were crowded into St Peter’s. With typical Roman incompetence, we had to be seated an hour early while technicians shouted “Pronto, pronto” through the loudspeaker systems. The service itself was the traditional Roman mixture of high pomp and shoddiness: as a concession to the modern age, the doves, which for some reason are traditionally presented to the Pope in cases of gold and silver, were caged in chromium. But it was curiously and undeniably moving to see 14,000 Englishmen gathered 2,000 miles away from home in the thoroughly un-English splendour of St Peter’s to honour the memory of co-religionists put to death in the most squalid circumstances 400 years before. The hymns had all been carefully chosen several months in advance, so as to give no offence to Anglicans. Some were even Anglican hymns, which, being unknown to the congregation, passed by in almost total silence. Above all it was decided that this was not an occasion for singing the triumphalist anthem of English Roman Catholicism, “Faith of our Fathers”. Unfortunately, it is also an old favourite, and the organisers did not reckon with that long wait. About half an hour before the Pope was due to enter, a whisper started among the massed ranks.
“Faith of our fathers, living still In spite of dungeon, fire and sword!” Within a few minutes it had grown to a mighty roar, defying all the organisers efforts to sabotage it with impromptu voluntaries: “Faith of our fathers Mary’s prayers Shall win our country back to thee: And through the truth that comes from God England shall then indeed be free”.
The five days which followed can only be described as an ecumenicist's nightmare, as triumphalist demonstration succeeded triumphalist demonstration. Romans had never seen Pope Paul greeted with such enthusiasm before. Nobody who took part in the extraordinary week can seriously doubt that there is enormous goodwill between the Christian communities to unite and settle their differences; but equally nobody can fail to have their doubts whether the present leaders of the Churches are adequate in the task of achieving that reconciliation’.
Auberon Waugh, 1939-2001, writing in The Spectator, November 1970
on the Canonisation of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales
O merciful God, who, when thy Church on earth was torn apart by the ravages of sin, didst raise up men and women in England who witnessed to their faith with courage and constancy: Give unto thy Church that peace which is thy will, and grant that those who have been divided on earth may be reconciled in heaven and be partakers together in the vision of thy glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon