Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Ordinariate Restart

The Ordinary of the Our Lady of Walsingham Personal Ordinariate has called for a restart of the Ordinariate. The Tablet reports on his comments at the Chrism Mass this past Holy Week:

The leader of the ordinariate has lamented the lack of growth of the group, set up in 2011 to allow former Anglicans to enter Communion with the Catholic Church.

Mgr Keith Newton, the ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, said more must be done to boost the numbers in the canonical structure, established under Pope Benedict XVI to allow Anglicans become Catholics while preserving their “Anglican patrimony”.

In a Chrism Mass homily on Monday, Mgr Newton conceded: “We must be honest and say the ordinariate has not grown as much as we hoped it might. The vision has not been caught … We must communicate our message much more widely and with more vigour and enthusiasm.”

The group, which has around 85 priests and 1,500 lay members, is preparing an “exploration day” on 6 September named “Called to be One”. Each “cluster” of ordinariate branches should “organise an event and invite those who might be interested to learn more about that vision for unity and truth in communion with the successor of Peter,” Mgr Newton said.

Those who led the Ordinariate in formation must have had an idea of how many from the Anglican Church could be coming, and know that many of those haven't come in to what Blessed John Henry Newman called "the one true fold of Christ". Therefore, in spite of all the excellent work achieved to date (the liturgy formation, a central church in London, various programs like the annual pilgrimage to Walsingham, The Portal newsletter, etc.), the Ordinariate needs to sustain growth to remain alive.

From the Ordinariate website:

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has announced the details of a major evangelisation initiative planned for September this year. Saturday, 6 September has been set aside as an "exploration day" when Ordinariate groups will organise local activities designed for people who are not currently part of the Ordinariate, but who wish to learn more about it. Among those invited to the events, which will be widely publicised, will be Anglicans - both lapsed and practising - who might be interested in the vision for truth and unity in communion with the successor of Peter which the Ordinariate offers. Typically, local events might include an address, a question and answer session with input from local lay members of the Ordinariate, refreshments and Evensong and/or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Speaking at the Ordinariate's Chrism Mass on 14 April, the Ordinary of the Ordinariate, Mgr Keith Newton, said the exploration day, which has been named "Called to be One", was part of renewed efforts on the Ordinariate's part to communicate its message "much more widely and with more vigour and enthusiasm".

Mgr Newton went on to remind the congregation of the vision that was set out in the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus. He said: "It is to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared. It is this vision which we need to foster within our own communities and which we need to communicate, both with our fellow Catholics... but also with our friends and former colleagues in the Church of England and equally Anglicans who have lapsed from the practice of the Faith. It is an important work of ecumenism".

For the success of this program: Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us! Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!


  1. Although my experience with the Ordinariate is in the US, I think a part of the issue is one of visibility. If I weren't a nosy Catholic who reads blogs about this stuff, I wouldn't know about the Ordinariate probably.

  2. You could have a point there, Matt--thanks for the comment.

  3. I'm a member of the Ordinariate in the U.S., one who has misgivings about its direction and leadership. I think it's probably the case that many Anglicans are waiting to see what happens, rather than rushing in only to discover that it was far from what they'd hoped. And frankly, I don't think Pope Francis' election helped matters. Benedict XVI was a man who knew and loved the Anglican tradition, and he communicated that enthusiasm to Anglicanism. His abdication, coming so soon after the establishment of the Ordinariates, and the election of a man who is decidedly cool to the type of Christianity represented by old-fashioned Anglo-Catholicism can't have helped matters.

  4. I should have added that I'm a member of the U.S. Ordinariate. Growth here has been better, I think, but it has largely been a clergy-driven movement (as Anglo-Catholicism was historically). They've put a damper on the parishless priests who want to come into the Ordinariate, and I think we've probably seen very nearly the last of the parishes. Time will only tell. I can see Ordinariate growth at this point only by means of attracting conservative Roman Catholics (which is exactly what the American, and presumably English, bishops do not want). Dispensing with a married presbyterate as a permanent feature of the Ordinariate did away with one of the few lasting distinctions between Anglo-Catholicism and contemporary vernacular Roman Catholicism. If I'm right, then the Ordinariate becomes a sort of reservation for Catholics, Anglican and Roman, alienated from the liturgical status quo. There's nothing inherently wrong with that formula: it's worked wonders for the Texas "Anglican Use" parishes, but is that really what Pope Benedict was after?

  5. Thank you for those comments based on firsthand experience. My one experience of an Anglican Use Mass---and my husband and I attend Extraordinary Form Masses every Sunday--demonstrated to me the beautiful patrimony of ritual and music the Ordinariate was bringing to the Church. As you say, "Time will only tell". God bless you!