‘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
Fr Lee Kenyon