Thursday, April 28, 2011

Holy Week and the Ordinariate in England

Last week, the reality of Our Lady of Walsingham's Ordinariate became clear, as former Anglicans professed their faith in the Catholic Church, were confirmed and received their first Holy Communion throughout Holy Week. The Catholic Herald reported on the first reception on the Monday of Holy Week at the Cathedral of St. Georges in Southwark:

The ordinariate is really happening. It really is. After a year and a half since the publication of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus which made establishing an ordinariate possible, and many earlier years of gestation, it is finally becoming real. Sure, it was established in January but until last night, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham numbered fewer than 20 people.

Today its numbers have already more than doubled and by Easter morning its numbers will have swelled to close to a thousand members. These will not only include more than 60 members of clergy, but also very importantly, the committed lay people who have followed their pastors into full Communion with the Catholic Church.

The Telegraph provided a more sinister interpretation of how these events of Holy Week developed in this story ("The faithful torn apart")--notice the emphasis on darkness and secrecy, and the interpretation and dramatization:

Dressed in their black cassocks, the three Anglican bishops had hoped to pass unnoticed as they emerged from the Vatican into the shadows lengthening across St Peter’s Square.

Having just assured one of the Pope’s key advisers of their momentous decision to defect to Rome, they walked along the cobbled streets fearful of being recognised, hoping to keep these discussions to themselves.

But they were betrayed even before they had returned to England, with word of their meeting spreading from one rectory to another, angering and alarming clergy loyal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who feared he was being undermined by this papal gambit tempting disaffected Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church.

This week, the plots hatched behind closed doors in the Vatican last year will be played out in the open as the former bishops lead dozens of clergy and hundreds of worshippers in taking up this historic offer.

Perhaps another narrative of these events might be: after years of struggle in a church that did not really respect their beliefs about the priesthood, the family, and other moral issues, Anglo-Catholics have found a welcome home in the Catholic Church. The Pope and the English Bishops have demonstrated respect and value for their spiritual patrimony through the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham with the guidance of Blessed John Henry Newman. As they enter the Catholic Church, the former Anglicans know they have truly come home to what Blessed John Henry Newman called "the one true of Christ"!

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