Saturday, August 27, 2016

Damian Thompson on Saving the English Ordinariate

In The Catholic Herald, Damian Thompson discusses the state of the Anglican Ordinariate and what needs to be done to save it:

When the Catholic Herald asked me to write this article, I wasn’t enthusiastic. Having noisily championed the Ordinariate from day one, I wasn’t keen to hear – yet again – its own faithful tell me that, well, it was a nice idea, but everyone hates us and even some of our own priests aren’t really on board.

Sure enough, that is exactly what I’ve been told and I’m now convinced that the Ordinariate in its present form will wither away.

But note the qualification: in its present form. Those 80 priests include visionaries who believe that the Ordinariate can reinvent itself.

By that, they mean that the fantasy of group conversions needs to be ditched. Also, Ordinariate priests and laity who never liked their unique Missal, Divine Worship, should slip quietly into the Catholic mainstream.

Only then will a smaller Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham enrich the whole Church with the radiant Divine Worship, revive moribund parishes and evangelise with the vigour of its Anglo-Catholic forebears. That sounds like wishful thinking – but the people who believe in it make a stronger practical case for this Ordinariate Mark II than anyone ever did for the launch model.

Citing the success of the Oratorians, he believes the key is Divine Worship, the liturgy of the Ordinariate:

Fr David Palmer, who runs the Nottingham Ordinariate group, thinks the answer is to “unchain” Divine Worship – that is, to allow any Catholic priest to say its Mass. “It has prayers at the foot of the altar, the option for a last Gospel. In many ways it offers the cross-fertilisation between old and new forms of the Roman Rite that Pope Benedict hoped for,” he argues.

Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith, a cradle Catholic theologian, recently preached at an Ordinariate Mass. “I was struck by its nobility,” he says. “How refreshing to hear a translation of the Canon written by someone whose first language is English. If the Church is serious about ‘celebrating diversity’, then it should allow priests like me to say it.”

That won’t happen. A Mass that draws so heavily on medieval English piety represents the wrong sort of diversity for “go-ahead” bishops. Although they can’t ban diocesan priests celebrating in the Extraordinary Form, they can stop them using Divine Worship.

But they absolutely cannot stop Ordinariate priests from saying their own Mass, or cradle Catholics from attending it. And this is where the Ordinariate Mark II comes in.

Very soon, the network of Ordinariate communities will disintegrate like a piece of old lace. What will not disintegrate is the papal legislation setting up ordinariates in America and Australia as well as Britain.

If an Ordinariate priest in England is determined enough, he can find a way of taking charge of a parish and offering a Divine Worship Sunday Mass.

Read the rest there. Of course, there is also the old-fashioned Catholic way: prayer. The English Ordinariate is dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham and Blessed John Henry Newman is its heavenly patron. From the Ordinariate website:

O Mary, recall the solemn moment
when Jesus, your divine Son,
dying on the cross
confided us to your maternal care.

You are our Mother;
we desire ever to remain your devout children.

Let us therefore feel the effects
of your powerful intercession with Jesus Christ.

Make your name again glorious in this place,
once renowned throughout our land
by your visits, favours and many miracles.

Pray, O Holy Mother of God,
for the conversion of England,
restoration of the sick,
consolation for the afflicted,
repentance of sinners,
peace to the departed.

O Blessed Mary, Mother of God,
Our Lady of Walsingham,
intercede for us. Amen


  1. It would be a great pity if this was not made to work. There exists a shortage of clergy: in my diocese Salford an wholesale closure of churches is to take place -= let Ordinariate clergy take-up some of the slack, by creating a bi-ritual NOM/Ordinariate parish, or even better, a TLM?Ordinariate parish. But the bishop would prefer laity managed parishes and Permanent Deacons, with remaining clergy as almost 'floaters'. Perhaps the Ordinariate should adopt their pre-war vernacular missal - that wouldb get the E&WBC worried.

  2. You might already know that Father Hunwicke disagrees with DT:

    Ordinariates and Thompson

  3. For an insider's take on it: Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment: Ordinariates and Thompson

  4. Out here in Australia there seems to be an acceptance of the Ordinariate,with congregations worshiping in diocesan parish churches.The Hierarchy appear to have embraced them ,with the local Latin Mass Parish having had a Ordinariate priest celebrate the Mass according to the ordinariate rite. Damian Thompson shows that vicent Nichols is more a politician than a pastor.