Pope Paul VI to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Michael Ramsey

"(B)y entering into our house, you are entering your own house, we are happy to open our door and heart to you." - Pope Paul VI to Dr Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A important date in Church history: The first Ordinariate is erected

The Rev Keith Newton, First Ordinary of the English Ordinariate
Today, at the Mass of ordination of three former senior Anglican bishops as Catholic priests, the English Personal Ordinariate also known as the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was erected. The worship service was held at London's Westminster Cathedral.  The three new Catholic priests are the former Anglican Bishops of Richborough Rev Keith Newton,  formerly of Ebbsfleet Rev Andrew Burnham and formerly of Fulham John Broadhurst.  The Archbishop of Westminster the Most Rev Vincent Nichols read the Papal bull erecting the Ordinariate before the Mass.  Abp Nichols homily drew on the Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman's faith journey and thanked the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England for the ministry of the three men. Abp Nichols' homily can be read here.

The Pope appointed the Rev Keith Newton as the first Ordinary of the English Ordinariate. Rev Newton's message upon being appointed is here. Rev Newton thanked the Church of England for his previous ministry and the Archbishop of Canterbury for being gracious.

It is expected that 50 Church of England priests and at least 35 lay congregations will join the Ordinariate. Their reception is expected by Pentecost Sunday. Two retired Church of England bishops, Edwin Barnes and David Silk are expected to be priested before then.

This momentous event marks a significant date in Church history. For the first time a part of the Anglican Communion has been reattached back to the Rock from which it was split almost 500 years ago. And for the first time Anglicans will be united but not absorbed into the Roman Church. In the past Anglicans had to leave their treasures when they went home to Rome. I have known Anglicans who have become Catholic to have left everything except the Prayerbook which they used privately as Catholics. However the Prayerbook was no longer authorized for them . But with the Ordinariate, the Prayerbook will become truly a treasure restored to the Catholic Church.

The establishment of the first Ordinariate is expected to herald the erection of Ordinariates in other countries. The American and Australian Ordinariates are expected to be organized soon. This will be followed by Ordinariates in Canada, Oceania, Asia and Africa.

Also as significantly, the Ordinariate is expected to provide a similar model for other Protestant communities to return to the Catholic Church. A group of Lutherans have asked Rome in the wake of Anglicanorum Coetibus. Since the other Protestant communities have a far more differing view of church polity and governance than Anglicans from the Catholics, it is more likely that a different scheme may be devised by Rome and this will take longer. But the Ordinariates do provide a precedent on how to proceed.

The Orthodox churches are looking with great interest on how the Ordinariates will work. While Rome has guaranteed the Orthodox that their different way of being church will be respected and preserved once they reconcile with Rome, the Orthodox like many Anglicans are suspicious of how this can be practically implemented. The Ordinariates provide a new way of bridging the separation of almost a thousand years.

We are seeing start the End of the Reformation. And the end of the Great Schism of 1054 is now on the horizon. Who would think this would happen as recently as five years ago?

Our Lady of Walsingham, we thank thee for thy intercession to thy Son, Jesus the Christ!
All ye Holy Men and Women, Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us to God!
Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, pray for us!
Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!
Blessed Pope John XXIII, pray for us! 

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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