Sunday, 15 January 2012

" ecumenism worthy of the name .."

Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, has written a pastoral letter to mark the first anniversary of the erection of the Ordinariate. The full text has been posted by E F Pastor Emeritus, here, though I expect it will eventually be posted to the Ordinariate's own website.

The following paragraph struck me, because of its resonance with a remark made by Pope Paul VI in connection with the canonisation of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970. I have added an emphasis to draw out the resonance.
Of course, there have been some misunderstandings; partly because the Ordinariate has begun in a modest way, many Catholics have had no personal contact with Ordinariate groups or individuals.  It is up to all of us to help people understand and to make a reality the vision that Pope Benedict has set before us, that the Ordinariate should be ‘a prophetic gesture’ to contribute to the wider goal of visible unity between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. It is to help us to experience in practice how we can share the gifts we have received to strengthen each other for our mission to a world that desperately needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. As we keep the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this month we should pray even more urgently for the unity of Christ’s Church which Pope Benedict reminded us, during his visit to the United Kingdom last year, is a particular charge and care for the successor of Saint Peter.
These words of Pope Paul VI are taken from his remarks at the Consistory held on 18th May 1970, in respect of the canonisation of the Forty Martyrs. Again, I have added an emphasis to draw out the resonance between the words of Mgr Newton and Pope Paul VI.
They [the Forty Martyrs] will be of the greatest help in the development of the Christian life. They will assist in advancing an ecumenism worthy of the name. They will be a true safeguard to those real values in which the genuine peace and prosperity of human society are rooted.
Pope Paul VI, at the end of his homily during the Mass of canonisation, expressed more completely the ecumenical implications of the canonisation, in words that now seem quite prophetic of the establishing of the Ordinariate:
May the blood of these Martyrs be able to heal the great wound inflicted upon God’s Church by reason of the separation of the Anglican Church from the Catholic Church. Is it not one-these Martyrs say to us-the Church founded by Christ? Is not this their witness? Their devotion to their nation gives us the assurance that on the day when-God willing-the unity of the faith and of Christian life is restored, no offence will be inflicted on the honour and sovereignty of a great country such as England. There will be no seeking to lessen the legitimate prestige and the worthy patrimony of piety and usage proper to the Anglican Church when the Roman Catholic Church-this humble “Servant of the Servants of God”- is able to embrace her ever beloved Sister in the one authentic communion of the family of Christ: a communion of origin and of faith, a communion of priesthood and of rule, a communion of the Saints in the freedom and love of the Spirit of Jesus.

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