It was a great privilege to spend a few days together with the Ordinaries of the Ordinariates of Our Lady of Walsingham (U.K.: Msgr. Keith Newton and Jill) and Our Lady of the Southern Cross (Australia: Msgr. Harry Entwistle and Jean) in Rome Feb. 15-18. We enjoyed the opportunity to get to know each other, to share our joys and challenges, and to encourage each other. We hope that it may become an annual gathering.
The meeting with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Feb. 18 was particularly important for us. In a wide-ranging discussion, several points stood out for me:
- We need to intensify our efforts to engage with the Church’s mission of evangelization. The Ordinariates are not meant to be enclosed communities preserving a distinctive ecclesial culture but a witness to Catholic unity and a means of bringing souls into the barque of Peter.
- The Ordinariates must join in the prayers for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, as we come to incorporate the discipline of priestly celibacy of the Latin Church. The dispensation from celibacy is intended only as a transitional step.
- Our clergy must continue to be formed in the disciplines of the priesthood. The Prefect, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, specifically mentioned the need to “create a culture of communion.”
Because the unity of the Church is the ostensible reason for their establishment, effective communion will be a principle measure against which Ordinariate communities will be judged. Anglicans will be interested in how well you are able to make a home in the Catholic Church that is more than just assimilation. Catholics will want to know that you are here to stay, strengthening our ecclesial cohesion rather than setting yourselves apart as another divisive grouping within the Church. It is safe to say that all eyes are now on you and your parish communities! For you who are the leaders of the Ordinariates, it is your delicate but all-important task both to preserve the integrity and distinctiveness of your parish communities and, at the same time, help your people integrate into the larger Catholic community.
The Prefect called on us to build closer relationships with the local dioceses, to be faithful in celebrating our distinctive liturgy, and to exercise vigilance over how our clergy use social media and blogs: “The image of the Ordinariate is not helped by un-reflected speech lacking in charity.”
Anglicanorum coetibus, the apostolic constitution which created the Ordinariates, intended that we should be fruitful in the work of unity and ecumenism. With this in mind, the three Ordinaries also visited the Anglican Centre in Rome, where we received a gracious welcome from its director, Archbishop David Moxon, and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity (PCPCU). While recognizing the sensitive nature of our mission, to help Anglicans whose consciences have prompted them to come into full communion with the Catholic Church, we are nonetheless committed to the Church’s ecumenical work and hope that we might be able to play a constructive role in advancing its goals.
Some 105 pilgrims from the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter then arrived in Rome for a truly wonderful pilgrimage Feb. 18-28. More on this later. On the way home, Debbie and I stopped for a day in Oxford to visit old friends. What a happy time that was! We were at Mass on Mar. 2 at St. Aloysius’, Oxford (the Oratorians’ parish which figures so prominently in Brideshead Revisited) with three great souls of the Anglican Patrimony, Dr. and Mrs William Oddie, and Dr. Walter Hooper (who was C.S. Lewis’ secretary and literary executor).