Fri 31st Oct 2014 | Last updated: Fri 31st Oct 2014 at 16:19pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo

Comment & Blogs

The Anglican Ordinariate will happen; and it will be a blessing for the English Church

But don’t hold your breath: it will take years

By on Friday, 13 August 2010

The Right Revd Geoffrey Rowell, the third Anglican Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe (Steve Parsons/PA Wire)

The Right Revd Geoffrey Rowell, the third Anglican Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe (Steve Parsons/PA Wire)

This is probably as good a time as any to assess progress towards the setting up, under the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, of an Anglican ordinariate here in England. Things seem to be moving faster elsewhere in the English-speaking world: The American Branch of the Traditional Anglican Communion has already formally requested the setting up of an ordinariate in the US: this will now proceed. But the TAC is already independent of Canterbury: they have already made the psychological break. Anglican Catholics within the Anglican Communion are still agonising. It seems sometimes, to those on the outside, that they have been agonising forever. Why don’t they just get on with it?

Well, it’s simple for us who are safe on the rock of Peter. I became a Catholic in 1991 (before women’s ordination; I used to joke that I came early to avoid the rush). Looking back, I often wonder what took me so long: like nearly every other ex-Anglican Roman Catholic I know, I have never once regretted “crossing the Tiber”.

But until  the moment when the break is made, things can seem a lot less clear. Those Anglicans deeply disturbed by the imminence of “women bishops” are divided between those who have already decided what to do and those who just don’t know. For a start, the Synod’s own decision, though inevitable, isn’t yet final. As the 15 bishops of “Forward in Faith”, the Anglo-Catholic dissident movement, put it in a letter to affiliated parishes: “Whatever happens in the Synod, there are some Anglo Catholics, including in our own number, who are already looking at, indeed are resolved to join the Ordinariate as the place where they can find a home … in communion with the Holy Father…. Yet others will make their individual submission and find their future as Roman Catholics.” And undoubtedly, yet others (including some bishops, like the Rt Revd Geoffrey Rowell, who is something called, believe it or not, “Bishop of Europe”) will stay where they are, some until they see what happens, others for the duration.

I suspect that the ordinariate will begin on a fairly small scale, while those in charge feel their way. There will be one or two parishes in every large centre of population to begin with. After a time, the new jurisdiction will grow. Parishes will become more numerous and also larger as more and more Anglicans join them and as local Roman Catholics, dissatisfied with the way their own liturgy is conducted, start attending on Sunday (this, I predict, will have a salutory effect on many existing Catholic Parishes).  And as has already happened where Anglican Rite Parishes  (mostly in the US) have been set up, they will become gateways back into the Church for lapsed Catholics. They will not be divisive, as some fear; on the contrary, they will be a great blessing for the English Church. But don’t hold your breath: this is all going to take time.

  • Fatherdmc

    I suspect you are correct, however there are other concerns. Does Rome still question Anglican Orders? Will Anglican priests be permitted to work elsewhere in the Church after incardination? What do we do with sticky question from the past? Will be rite eventually simple be tolerated for a generation or two then meld with the current RC liturgyor will it be maintained?

    I am one of the one son the fense.

    Father Dave

  • W Oddie

    Yes, the official position has to be that Anglican orders must still be regularised, ie that reordination is required. But it is made quite clear now (ever since Cardinal Hume incorporated a form of words designed to make it clear that “absolutely null and utterly void” was no longer the spirit in which the orders of an Anglican priest wishing to become a Catholic priest were now regarded) that the new ordination is not a denial of existing orders but a fulfilment of them. And I am sure that the new jurisdiction will no be no more reversible than existing ordinariates or prelatures, or than the so-called Eastern “Uniate” jurisdictions. This is here to stay: it will take generations to reach its full potential, and it will not be possible to wind it up hereafter. This is, seriously this time, “the conversion of England”. As for Anglican priests moving out of the jurisdiction into what will be, for a time at least, the mainstream, I'm not sure; but it's certainly the case that an Eastern Catholic priest may say Mass in the Western form in a Western Catholic Church. I'm pretty sure there will be considerable flexibility. But I don't know yet how it will all work: neither, I suspect, does anyone else.

  • Get out now

    Please hurry up and get the hell out of the Anglican Church. Rome needs you to help recover the 10 billion in child abuse hush $$$!!!!

  • hoops

    What happened to the article about Confirmation? Maybe its me and computers but I thought there was an article about confirmation and its form and intent on this website. I can't find it. I wanted to see how my point of view went over. As I say I've looked maybe my eyes are painted on but I just can't find it.

  • Frances Treglown

    Wonderfull to see the comment, ” The conversion of England ” we do say the PRAYER FOR THE CONVERSION OF ENGLAND most earnestly and in all hope for our seperated brethren to join us in the One True Fold. Thanks be to God.
    Mary Frances. Cornwall

  • Hawkeye

    So we can have married priests join the church? Also who replaces their stipends etc? Will we be buying the churhces etc off the Anglican church?

    Why can't we have married CATHOLIC FROM BIRTH priests?

  • Mark Slattery

    In the establishment of the Ordinariate the hierarchy once again demonstrates an absolute lack of commitment to deal with the real issues that the church faces. The concept of the ordinariate is certainly regressive. We need to be dealing with the issues of married/women priests in the Catholic Church given the lack of priests not crowing about a way of bringing the ecumenical goals of Cormac Murphy O’Connor in by the back door. The move is also devisive and corrosive as we will have one rule for ex anglicans and another for Catholics.