Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Ordinariate and Pope Francis

As the National Catholic Register published a great tribute to the achievements of Pope Emeritus Benedict, the Personal Ordinariate for former Anglicans received its due attention:

In 2011, the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was founded in England and Wales for the reception of Anglicans into full communion with the Catholic Church, while maintaining their distinctive Anglican patrimony. A year ago, the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established in the U.S., while the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross was established in Australia last June.

Having made the accommodation of former Anglicans with their patrimony his personal project by enacting his 2009 apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, Pope Benedict’s actions in creating these foundations could prove to be a major lasting legacy of his pontificate.
This is a fact particularly recognized by the ordinary of the U.S. ordinariate, Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson. In a Feb. 11 statement, he commented that "members of the ordinariate are in a particular way the spiritual children of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI."
Msgr. Steenson noted that ever since Pope Benedict’s time as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "the reconciliation of Anglicans to the Catholic Church has been one of his principal tasks."
Despite expressing sadness at the Pope’s abdication, Msgr. Steenson said there is also "a deeper joy, knowing that we are the fruit of his vision for Catholic unity."
There has been some concern about the future of the Ordinariate because of some comments Pope Francis made when he was Archbishop in Argentina. The Anglican bishop of Argentina, Greg Venables, reported that Archbishop Bergoglio told him the Ordinariate was unneccesary, as The Telegraph story recounts:
The Rt Rev Greg Venables, the Anglican Bishop of Argentina, said that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, had told him "very clearly" that he doubts about the Ordinariate and thought there was no need for Anglicans who want closer ties with their Catholic counterparts to leave their church. . . .
He added: "He called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the Church needs us as Anglicans."
The Ordinary of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter in the USA, Monsignor Jeffrey Stinson, responded:
We have received a number of inquiries from those who are concerned about what our new Pope’s attitude may be toward the Ordinariates, occasioned by an anecdotal report from an Anglican bishop in Argentina. It is important to remember that our Ordinariates were created by an apostolic constitution, thereby giving them real permanence and stability. But it is even more important to remember what it means to be Catholic, to have the full assurance that faith brings. Christ the Good Shepherd entrusted the governance of the Church to St. Peter and his successors. To be in communion with Peter brings a confidence we never knew as Anglicans. Pope Francis understands the pilgrim character of our communities and will be a wise and caring pastor to us!
I think this is just part of the strange competitive comparison and contrast between emeritus Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis going on in both the secular and to some extent Catholic media. The Ordinariate effort may have been a particular interest of Benedict, but Francis will certainly not interfere with its progress.

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