Thursday, 28 July 2011

Imposing on the Ordinariate?

Thus Damian Thompson, to whom this blog does not normally link:
I’ll leave it there for now. But Cardinal Levada should be advised that, in this [ie the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham] as in other areas, he must not assume that the Bishops of England and Wales will implement the Holy Father’s plans with any particular urgency or imagination.
I think there is a danger that those of us who are not directly involved with the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, or who may have only an encouraging role, may impose onto it an agenda that comes from ourselves and not from the essence of the Ordinariate itself. Dear Damian appears to have done this big time in this post, though I have occasionally wondered over the last year or so whether others have been doing it in less conscious way.

My own thought is that, yes, the Ordinariate is a permanent structure, but that does not preclude the possibility that it will be a structure that serves for a time. It has certainly already proven its worth as an instrument in favour of unity of Anglicans with the Catholic Church, and this is in my understanding the intention of Pope Benedict XVI with regard to the Ordinariate. Whether in 30 or 40 years time converts will choose to join the Ordinariate or instead to join their geographically defined Catholic diocese I really am not sure. I am also not clear exactly how the idea of Anglican patrimony will be lived out in the Ordinariate. These are things that, from the outside, I am not really entitled to make judgements about but should leave to the disposition of the Holy Spirit.

The Complementary Norms that accompanied Anglicanorum Coetibus explicitly envisage situations where clergy of an Ordinariate cooperate in the pastoral care of their diocese of residence. In a situation where the numbers of clergy being received into the Ordinariate is very high compared to the numbers of lay faithful, there seems to me to be a mutual benefit in these clergy also helping in the pastoral care of the diocese. I think it is fair to say that, in my own deanery, the forthcoming appointment of four new priests has been made possible by the collaborative placement of Ordinariate priests elsewhere in the diocese. None of this should be presented as impinging on the independence of structure of the Ordinariate; and comment to the effect that Ordinariate priests should be being encouraged to establish their own congregations is to miss the point that these congregations, at least at the present juncture, are not sufficiently large to support a priest on their own.

One of the things that has struck me about events in my own diocese during the "choreography" of the move of these now-former-Anglicans from their Anglican parishes to Catholic parishes at the beginning of Lent, to reception into the Catholic Church at Easter, and then on to the ordinations of their clergy, is the high degree of collaboration and understanding between all the different parties involved. This, so far as I can tell, extends from parishes hosting Ordinariate groups to arrangements with the respective Catholic and Anglican dioceses. I have not seen any of this first hand, so I cannot judge whether this also constitutes what might be fully meant by "good will".


Fr John Abberton said...

I'm happy to see you posting again. Thanks for this post

Fr Patrick said...

When the former married Anglican priests were welcomed into the diocese in the nineties the thinking was that they would take on paid chaplaincy jobs and not be parish priests. Now a number of years later most of them are parish priests. No shift of policy, it just evolved that way. They are in parishes now because of the shortage of clergy to fill vacant parishes. The Ordinariate may well go the same way, taking on existing parishes to help fill the gaps of the shortages that there are. It would seem quite strange if twenty or so congregation who converted with their priest were indulged with their own “distinctive patrimony” their own Mass times, their own liturgy, the loan of a church building, while a parish in the immediate area is struggling to fill a vacancy for a priest. What is the difference between a married priest and a celibate one? What is the difference between a diocesan priest and an Ordinariate one?