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Is Damian Thompson right: are the English bishops trying to smother the ordinariate? If so, it’s time for Rome to act

The US ordinariate has only just been founded: but already they have a principal church. Ours doesn’t: why is that?

By on Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Mgr Keith Newton, head of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, celebrates the ordinariate's first birthday at St James, Spanish Place (Photo: Mazur)

Mgr Keith Newton, head of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, celebrates the ordinariate's first birthday at St James, Spanish Place (Photo: Mazur)

I am beginning to put two and two together and not making four; or, to vary the cliché, I am beginning to smell a rat: I refer to the unfolding story of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Others, I know, have beat me to it in this particular process. But I am a simple soul, I tend to look on the bright side and try to avoid paranoia where I can. I hope I am wrong: but I am, all the same, beginning to wonder if the warm support with which even quite unexpected people in our hierarchy (like Bishop Hollis) greeted the establishment of the ordinariate this time round (you will remember the extreme hostility with which they squashed the same basic idea in the 90s) was really as wholehearted as it seemed at the time: or were they simply saying what they knew the Pope wanted them to say, but without any real belief in the basic idea? Or maybe with the idea, this time, of getting the whole thing under way and then squashing it?

Let me direct your attention to a couple of websites, which seen together provide food for thought. The first is the website of the new US ordinariate, the Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter, a name which splendidly makes very clear a basic characteristic of most Anglican converts these days: their loyalty to the Magisterium (undoubtedly one reason for the open hostility of most of our hierarchy to the idea of an independent Anglican Catholic jurisdiction 20 years ago). The newly announced US ordinary (who has been a friend of mine for 30 years; I first knew him in Oxford when he was doing his DPhil) is Fr Jeffrey Steenson, a distinguished Patristics scholar and the former Anglican bishop of the Rio Grande. From his website, I perceive that he is getting very full support from the American hierarchy in more than just fine words: he already, for instance, has a “principal church”, in other words, a sort of cathedral, which was immediately designated as such on the erection of the US ordinariate, by the Cardinal Archbishop of Houston, Texas, where he will be based.

The second website is the Ordinariate Portal, which reports on our own English ordinariate, that of Our Lady of Walsingham. In October, this reproduced without comment the following from an article which appeared on Damian Thompson’s feisty Telegraph website:

I was disappointed to miss Cardinal Levada’s visit to London for a fundraising event for the ordinariate sponsored by the Catholic Herald …. It would have been good to hear the Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith remind us that the ordinariate is the Pope’s own project and an “important new structure for the Church”.

But, talking of important structures, could I just ask: where is the London church that will serve as the ordinariate’s headquarters? The question was already a pressing one when I raised it back in January. The failure to address the matter is so morale-sapping that I really can’t blame those Anglicans who are hesitating to take the plunge. This isn’t the fault of the ordinary or Cardinal Levada; as usual, the blame lies with the slow-acting Bishops of the Benzodiazepine Rite based in Eccleston Square. If they don’t find a church soon, there won’t be a second wave of Ordinariate converts. And you have to ask: do they really want one?

It’s a very good question, which I am now in my slow-moving way beginning to ask myself. Damian Thompson was asking it from the outset. He repeated the question yet again last month: this time, the Ordinariate Portal reproduced his article in full, under the headline “Damian Thompson: The English bishops are trying to smother the ordinariate. How long will Rome tolerate this situation?” It’s a headline which doesn’t surprise one much when one reads it on Mr Thompson’s blog; it’s his style, and he has been from the beginning the principal scourge of the English hierarchy in general and of Archbishop Nichols in particular. But it’s one thing to see a headline like that in the Telegraph: entirely another to see it in the Ordinariate Portal. Have a look at it: it’s very striking, as is the article which follows.

It prompts the question: what is the policy of those running the Ordinariate Portal; is it just to reproduce everything that appears online about the ordinariate? I doubt that, because there’s lots of such material that isn’t reproduced in it. Or, do they repeat material sympathetic to them, material, furthermore, with which they to some extent agree? In this particular case, it prompts the question: does the leadership of the ordinariate agree that the English bishops are trying to smother it? It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if they were: it’s what they did 20 years ago after all, and they haven’t changed that much; many of the same bishops, indeed, are still there. Does the leopard change its spots? Last time, they killed the idea of people crossing the Tiber in parish groups, but put in place fast-track provisions for the recycling of convert Anglican clergy: they got quite a lot of high-quality priests that way without having to bother with their laity: this mitigated the effects of the shortage of indigenous vocations no end. Are they up to the same tricks again? This time, just let the whole thing fall flat, then absorb the ordinariate clergy into the local diocese, and their laity into the local parishes?

Let me make it clear: I have deliberately, in the course of writing this article, not asked, even off the record, any of the ordinariate monsignori if they agree with what I might call the “Thompson scenario”. I say this in order to protect them from the accusation that I am knowingly reflecting their views. But if this analysis is correct, if the bishops do have some such strategy, and if the ordinariate’s leaders do think so, then it really is time for Rome to intervene. I hope that Archbishop Mennini is keeping a close eye on all this, and that he is still Rome’s man and hasn’t, like so many of his predecessors, gone native, seduced by the “creamy English charm” (Evelyn Waugh in Brideshead) of whoever is the current incumbent of Archbishop’s House, Westminster. Damian Thompson claims that “The Vatican is well aware that the English bishops are trying to smother this initiative”. If so, as he comments, “much depends on the Pope’s state of health… The enemies of the ordinariate are counting on this pontificate coming to an end before the structures of the English ordinariate are set in stone.” Well, I suspect (certainly, I pray) that the Pope has plenty of life left in him yet: it isn’t time for him to go, he has too many things to complete. And this increasingly looks like one of them.

  • Richard George1

    Sorry, I’m lost. Why would it be the responsibility of the bishops of England and Wales to sort the Ordinariate out with a principal church, given that the whole point is that it’s outside the diocesan structure? Either it’s in charge of it’s own affairs (in which case no one else can be blamed if it falls flat) or it isn’t, in which case it ought to be locked into the diocesan structure and answerable to the bishops.
    Neither the bishops’ conference nor the ordinariate (which I personally genuinely wish well) can have it both ways.

  • Wealands Bell

    Won’t the Ordinariate have a natural life-span anyway, without the English Catholic bishops needing to intervene? There will not be an endless succession of disaffected Anglicans. There will be more now, especially if the Synod provides ungenerously for those who in conscience are opposed, and more when women are actually ordained to the episcopate. After that, it’s hard to see where any on-going supply of unhappy, Rome-longing Anglicans is going to come from. The next big debate will presumably concern the Ordination (Cloned Persons) Measure of, what?, 2095? My guess is that the Ordinariate will have been taken to the bosom of the dioceses long before then.

  • Sussex Catholic

    There are two vital and, so far, missing ingredients which the Ordinariate desperately needs if it is truly to get off the ground in England &Wales in the way it was intended. The first is a Headquarters church which can serve as an example of how the Ordinariate should erect and run its own parishes. The second is a bishop who comes from and belongs to the Ordinariate who can ordain its priests without one of the Magic Circle having to be involved (which at present is giving Eccleston Square a de facto veto over the candidates). Neither of these is going to happen any time soon for the simple reason that, just as happened in the 1990′s, Eccleston Square wants the Ordinariate priests to fill the void in its dioceses left by the decline in vocations and the excessive number of Catholic parishes which need staffing. In other words the bishops want to be able to exercise control over the Ordinariate’s priests while at the same time using them as cheap labour and in the process thwarting them from doing their own thing. If I were Mgr.Newton I would waste no more time waiting on charity from Eccleston Square which is not going to be forthcoming but I would make an appointment asap with Abp Mennini and ask him two things. The first would be to seek approval for the ordination of a celibate Ordinariate priest to the Episcopate (preferably in Rome and by the Pope himself together with Card Levada and Abp Mennini as co-consecrators) as soon as one can be found and the second would be  approval for the consecration of a redundant Protestant church as the Ordinariate’s HQ together with some funds to cover the purchase or rental. The Ukrainian Cathedral in London is just such a building as are several Polish Catholic churches around the country. This is a far more likely source of a suitable building than waiting for Eccleston Square which will continue its policy of withholding support while it seeks to complete the process of subtly “requisitioning” the Ordinariate’s priests for its own needs.

  • South Saxon

    A “headquarters church” in central London? The Guards’ Chapel, Chelsea Barracks, is sitting empty, unloved and in need of a suitable new owner.

  • James Bradley

    The Ordinariate Portal blog is not an official outlet of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.  The purpose of the blog, as I understand it, is to be a place where everything about the Ordinariate is reproduced – hence the ‘one stop’ claim.  James Bradley (Communications Officer for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham).

  • Ordinariate Portal Admin

    As Deacon Bradley has swiftly pointed out, the Ordinariate Portal is an unofficial blog site which attempts to reproduce any material on the Ordinariate in order to bring it to a wider readership.  If there are articles which we miss, please point them out by contacting us through the blog.

    To make this very clear: we are not an official outlet of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

  • Anonymous

    Completely reiterate everything Sussex Catholic has said .

    I’m sorry but the ONLY way out of this is direct intervention and the appointment of a Bishop from within the Ordinariate & an Archbishop to the Ordinariate – someone from within the system who is willing to take the mantle and fight for the Ordinariate.

    The Ordinariate haven’t got a clue with whom they’re dealing – their representatives  sat round a table in the Vatican at secret meetings with His Grace Archbishop Nichols – drafting provisions and formulating an Ordinariate and expecting that His Holiness’s requests on their behalf would be fulfilled.

    All the time not having a clue that they were being whispered against, campaigned against by both Catholics & Angicans who made it palpably clear that this initiative was detrimental to the ‘dialogue towards unity’ and temporarily compromised their positions as oecumenical ambassadors – that this was a counter-productive ‘wacked-out’ scheme by an ailing Pope who merely needed to be placated until he died – hence delaying tactics, obfuscations, procedurality, red tape and making everything as difficult and administratively untenable as possible; with patronising sympathy and hand-wringing at their lot while sneering, dismissing and chuckling to themselves that the whole thing will eventually come to naught…that the administration will crumble via crises and power politics and personality clashes and outright frustration at the situation…and ultimately the Ordinariate will be re-integrated into Conference system and those not happy about it will crawl back to their friends in the Cof E.

    They are at present being treated with the utmost contempt – despite the soft words from our hierarchy which ring hollow when there’s no physical manifestation of any support.

    A pitiable quarter of a million?
    How Conference can look in the mirror that it donated to the Ordinariate the annual wages of a handful of quangocrats is beyond me.

    No Central Church or HQ – when at the beginning it was whispered that London Colney was expected to be Ordinariate Central…and hints that the Vatican was being led to believe it too.

    Hence I argue that the only way for the Ordinariate to begin to fight back is to turn a poacher into a gamekeeper…to turn a decent member of the Pharisees into an Apostle – To do what our Lord and Saviour did to Saul

    +Vin has made it perfectly clear that he wants his two senior auxiliaries off his patch
    …so I’d suggest that His Holiness appointed one of them to the Ordinariate – as Archbishop – with the clout to stake a claim and be heard at the Vatican and not be sidelined by Conference lackeys.

    Yes Bishop Hopes was an Anglican for his first five decades…but…

    I’d give them Bishop Arnold – he knows how Westminster works inside and out – he deserves an Archbishop’s mitre for all the grief he’s endured and the backs he’s covered and the way he’s held the ship together in the storm and kept the Westminster & Cathedral team on-board while +Vin and Sr Carmel have ridden roughshod over the traditional Westminster way.

    He’s networked to the hilt, he understands the system inside-out and knows every dirty procedural trick in the book; he knows all the skeletons and where the bodies are buried…
    He’s champing at the bit to actually take the helm; the frustrated first officer…and as a leader of a pilgrim disenfranchised and dispossessed group with ardent hearts and nothing to lose someone who is not contaminated with an internecine Anglican heritage who’ll be able to lead his merry band towards an authentic Anglican Catholicism?
    I think it could be His Lordship’s making!

    ..and let’s face it – with the perfect candidate of Bishop Davies to take over Liverpool – His Holiness is not going to give it to Bishop Arnold…as a metropolitan fixture he wouldn’t fit in anyway – they fight differently up North.

    An Archbishop at the helm of the Ordinariate would give the whole structure some tenure – ESPECIALLY if Westminster were ordered to give them Colney or an equally appropriate residence and Church – with adequate funding!!

    Give them an Archbishop Arnold.

    …and in compensation for +Vin’s compliance?
    Why not privilege him with the appointment of Fr Tim  Finigan and Canon Luiz Ruscillo as replacement auxiliaries?

  • http://twitter.com/RFederle Robert Federle

    What Charity!  This comment hijacks to mind one of the worst of the 60′s/70′s Church songs, You Can Tell They Are Christians By Their Love…  

  • Scyptical Chymist

    Very good comments. This seems to me to be just one more example of the lukewarm approach in England,to most of Pope Benedict’s initiatives. Examples: the continued sniping at the “new” English translation of the Mass (see The Tablet), the limited provision of the pre-Vatican 2 Latin Mass even when more provision was requested, ineffectual leadership on implementing papal wishes on confession and the Eucharist (with at least one honourable exception among the hierarchy). I am sure that  others can add to this list. It appears that many of the clergy, including members of the English hierarchy, are more interested in “not rocking the boat” in relations with the (trendy?) laity (at parish level) and the powers that be at national level. There does not seem to be any evidence of evangelization taking place and when a great opportunity such as the Ordinariate presents itself, it has not been seized with a warm welcome from our clergy. Indeed it is difficult not to harbour the same suspicions as Damian Thompson and William Oddie.

  • W Oddie

    Thank you for this clarification. But the question remains: I’d still love to know if the powers that be in the Ordinariate  agree with Damian.

  • Mr Grumpy

    I’m tempted to suggest that the cruellest thing +Vincent could do to the Ordinariate would be to give the Ordinariate a grand London church then sit back and watch them flounder. And I don’t actually believe he’s that nasty.

    The failure of the Ordinariate is guaranteed if its members wait around for manna to fall from Ecclestone Square. In view of its size it will need exceptional commitment and self-reliance from its laity – and whether its structures are such as to encourage that is, I would suggest, a question that urgently needs asking.

    Demanding a “sort of cathedral” seems just delusional to me – where is a congregation able and willing to pay the bills to come from? Similarly re Sussex Catholic’s complaints about the priests, the Ordinariate can have them back just as soon as it is able to feed them.

    What the Ordinariate needs is a vision of what it can build out of its own resources. Its members need to appreciate what will go against the grain for many of them: that hierarchies are not good at generating innovation. It can’t all come from Mgr Newton however hard he works. The Portal is fine but there needs to be a lot more grassroots communication and exchange of ideas. How many Ordinarians are using social media?

  • Sandlotfun

    If this is true, I pray the bishops will welcome and give these folks a chance to establish themselves in the Catholic Church. Their sincerity cannot and should not be disregarded. Let’s welcome them with open arms, please!

  • Anonymous

    Dr Oddie whatever the Ordinariate thinks about the situation they have to keep their mouths firmly shut…
    The first hint of discontent at their lot and the powers-that-be will turn and denounce them as ingrates, trouble-makers and obviously more concerned with self-interest than unity – that this merely confirms how ridiculous was this folly of papal whimsy and the sooner it was put back in its box the better for all concerned…

    If anyone should be doing the shouting and the fighting – we have to do it for them – they have to be seen as Caesar’s wife – and not provide anyone with any ammo to use against them.

    We know there are many within the ordinariate living on the charity and good grace of friends; some being forced to work all hours in menial jobs at minimum wage while their families live on top of each other in tiny flats or friends’ guestrooms – living from hand to mouth – and all because they gave up ther livelihoods and security to become one again with the One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church at the Pope’s behest….

    And now?
    It’s tantamount to a scandal what’s happened…
    ..and when +Vin had the audacity to turn round and tell them they weren’t getting a Church because he was concerned that they might not appreciate the financial burden? Why didn’t he just say ‘Bah Humbug’ kick a puppy and burn down an orphanage too?

    Yet again Our hierarchy have not merely revealed themselves to be oblivious mean-spirited negligent reprobates – they’ve betrayed and reneged upon the last request of His Holiness as he left this land.

    If I belonged to the Ordinariate I’d be incredulous and disconsolate at the way they’d been treated.

    But break their hearts – for they must – for their own sakes – hold their tongues.

    We are the ones who have to shout from the rooftops about this.

    …and have no doubt – Rome has heard: And they are most certainly not happy about it; our leaders are not going to get away with this!

  • Little Black Censored

    Won’t the Ordinariate have a natural life-span anyway…?
    The Pope’s intention was to provide a permanent home within the Roman communion for the Anglican tradition. The Ordinariate, properly set up, would develop a life of its own, and not always be dependent on refugees from the C of E. The home of proper orthodox Anglicanism would have shifted into the new body. Something like that seems to be happening in N. America. One of the difficulties in England is that the very people who make up the Ordinariate are not very fond of the tradition from which they are sprung, and both they, and the RC hierarchy, emphasize the necessity of a clean break with the parent, rather than organic evolution.
    (For an example of the evolutionary approach read anything by Fr John Hunwicke, including the recent University Latin Sermon – translation provided on Fr Zulzdorf’s blog. But then, look at what happened – or didn’t happen – to Fr Hunwicke!)

  • Anonymous

    Have you possibly noticed the irony in your argument considering the majority of online Catholics on facebook, twitter, RSS and mailing lists are regularly kept up to date with the activities of the Ordinariate…

    …and we have the utterly useless CCN who tell us nothing!!!!

    At the end of the Papal Visit His Holiness asked us to feed his lambs…

    Maybe I need to remind our wastrel profligate Bishops’ Conference [with all their lost millions in useless self-indulgent vanity exercises] of the words of Pius XI – Charity goes beyond all demands for Justice – let the Ordinariate’s self-sustainablity be an issue when they have been treated with the dignity afforded the corporal works of mercy!!!

  • Anonymous

    This is exactly what they’re doing. Perhaps even not intentionally, but they’ve scented fresh priests and they’re going to use them, and if that means infringing the independence of the ordinariate, well…

    They’re quietly assimilating them into their own diocesan structures and hoping no-one will notice.

    Perhaps the reluctance to give them a principal church and allow them to function as an independent entity stems from this desire not to lose all of these freshly minted new priests they’ve happened upon like manna from heaven.

    They mustn’t get away with it. They must be given a prominent principal church NOW.

  • Anonymous

    Matthew 25

  • Anonymous

    So now we now know why the Ordinariate is struggling. Dr Oddie has discovered that it is all the fault of the bishops of England and Wales. According to Damian Thompson their main method of attack is by offering a welcome to the ordinariate groups and inviting them to be involved in local parish activities. How scandalous.

    I wonder what Dr Oddie or Mr Thompson would have said if the bishops had instructed parish priests to have little or nothing to do with ordinariate groups, and to refuse them the use of parish buildings, deny their priests the chance to supply on Sundays etc, so that they would not be “smothered” and the Pope’s vision of  an ordinariate free from diocesan structures could come to pass. 

    If the ordinariate wants a big church in London, or anywhere else, all to themselves then they should go ahead and buy one or build one. Nobody is stopping them, and the whole point of the ordinariate was that they should be free to make all those sort of decisions for themselves. If they need money, then perhaps they should ask the Holy See, which has a lot more money than any English diocese.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t the Ukranians need the Ukranian cathedral?

  • Anonymous

    “+Vin has made it perfectly clear that he wants his two senior auxiliaries off his patch”

    Has he? Why?

  • Anonymous

    I think the quote from an insider was ‘they’re made to feel as welcome as anthrax when ‘strictly’ has just started’

  • Anonymous

    If the Ordinariate needs a bishop then that it is entirely a matter for Pope Benedict (perhaps after listening to advice from Archbishop Burke and the Congregation for Bishops), and nothing whatever to do with Archbishop Nichols or any other English bishop. 

    However anyone familiar with history of religious orders will know that there is nothing unusual in the first generations of priests being ordained by diocesan bishops, and that this is still the norm for most religious orders today. I have never heard of a case of a religious order unable to find a bishop who is prepared to ordain one of its candidates for the priesthood. All candidates for the ordinariate have their cases approved by Rome, without any veto at all to the local bishop. 

  • Anonymous

    +Cormac:
     “Oh yes I got that [auxiliary Bishopric] for John Sherrington – he’d done a few favours for Conference”
    [unquote]

  • Anonymous

    Do you really think that +Cormac has the power to decide who becomes a bishop? He can recommend, but the decision rests with others. Senior bishops, from all nations, are reminded of this when their recommendations for auxiliaries are not accepted by Rome. 

  • Anonymous

    Really nice try Patrick but that won’t wash..nytor’s right!

    And come off it – Two years ago +Vin was in Rome saying all the right things to the prospective Ordinariate representatives in front of Vatican officials – then coming home and saying the exact opposite to his brother Bishops – the usual Westminster gambit – playing both sides and hoping to achieve an unrocked E&W boat with the chance of a nice shiny red hat in the process.

    And now the Ordinariate is here?
    Not a fatted calf in sight….

    Maybe you’re reading from Bishops’ Conference Bible where the pages containing the Prodigal Son & Good Samaritan parables have been torn out to light the Patchouli incense sticks?

  • Anonymous

    Doesn’t really matter what any of us thinks does it?
    You said one thing: Cormac either believes or knows otherwise.

    …and yes I will definitely say that there is indeed some closer scrutiny of candidates under the present Pope; and not merely compliance with the [normally gone-native] Nuncio’s terna…

    …but there are too many strings being pulled in this tangled web for His Holiness to be able to sever them all…

  • GabrielAustin

    Bishops like those in the “magic circle” are part of the history of the Church – Blind mouths. The actions of these prelates merely demonstrate that the normal episcopal failings are still part of the species. His Holiness has done his part. Now it is up to the laity. Perhaps the normal remedy – prayer. 

  • GabrielAustin

    Bishops like those in the “magic circle” are part of the history of the Church – Blind mouths. The actions of these prelates merely demonstrate that the normal episcopal failings are still part of the species. His Holiness has done his part. Now it is up to the laity. Perhaps the normal remedy – prayer. 

  • Anonymous

    Anyone wondering why the American ordinariate has its own fine church as a base should read the history of Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston. http://www.walsingham-church.org/site/History.html  After a brave step in 1982, when the first clergy left the Anglican church, the local bishop ordained them in 1984 and appointed them as co-pastors of their parish, within the diocese. After a long struggle to make ends meet by many means including bingo, they finally raised enough money (including one parishioner’s gift of $1,000,000) to build a beautiful church. 

    I suppose if they had been English the priests of Houston would have sat back and whinged about how awful the local bishop was by ordaining them and giving them a parish in his diocese to run (i.e. smothering them), and then moaned about him not simply giving them an impressive church for their own use.

  • Anonymous

    The Ukranians built and paid for their own churches when they came over to England as refugees after the Second World War. 

  • Daniel

    I think your assessment of how things are going in the U.S. is off.  So far, they have made clear that the largest of the Anglican Use parishes is part of their diocese and will require permission to become part of the Ordinariate (so far withheld).  The Vicar General (who remains incardinated under Cardinal Wuerl) has indicated in an interview that it is not clear to him, but he does not believe that those who left the Episcopal Church prior to 2009 to come into full communion are eligible to be “card carrying members” of the Ordinariate.  It’s not clear if he has given any consideration to those that left the Episcopal Church prior to 2009 and have been waiting for the Personal Ordinariate to come into full communion.  Pastoral Provision priests are incardinariated in their diocese, and it might take some time and evaluation before they could become part of the Ordinariate.  The Ordinary has just said in an interview that he will continue his full time job teaching, and work on the Ordinariate in his “free hours”.  It would seem that the Vicar General may also remain in his fulltime position as the director of the diaconite program for the Diocese of Washington DC and work on the ordinariate in his “free time”.  In his interview; the Ordinary indicates that there will be no pretense of remaining Anglican, speaks fondly of Katharine Jefferts Schori with whom he hopes to have further contact while not wanting to stick his nose where it is not wanted, and mentions he “will rely on bishops for pastoral warnings about troubled priests or
    congregations heading his way, and he will offer the same guidance to
    them.”  The U.S. Catholic Bishops worked with the Pastoral Provision over the past 30 years to help build a handful of incoming PP parishes into a handful of PP parishes.

  • Anonymous

    The English and Welsh bishops’ response to the Ordinariate together with
    Archbishop Nichols’s handling of the Cardinal Vaughan school parents and his recent comments on same-sex “marriage”/civil partnerships explain why there will be no red biretta for Archbishop Nichols at next month’s consistory.

    His exclusion from the list was deliberate and had nothing to do with the fact that Cardinal Muphy-O’Connor will not be 80 until August 24. In drawing up his list Pope Benedict took into account that five cardinals were due to celebrate their 80th birthdays AFTER the consistory, one each of the next five months up to Cardinal Stafford on July 26. So why not just another one month?

    For a fuller explanation, see “Humiliation for Archbishop Nichols”  http://hughie-scottishcatholicobservant.blogspot.com/

  • Sussex Catholic

    You misunderstand. I mean that these are examples of former Protestant (usually Methodist) churches which are then converted into use as Catholic churches. I am not suggesting that either the Ukrainians or the Poles relinquish their buildings but rather that the Ordinariate look for a redundant non-Catholic church building in the same way.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for a very informative comment, it has helped me understand the situation in the American ordinariate. I had not realised that around a dozen parishes run by former Anglican clergy had been incardinated into dioceses in America. If these parishes wish to join the ordinariate then the local bishop will have to agree to put the territory in which the parish lies, and the cure of souls there who are not former Anglicans, into the charge of another priest. Perhaps some bishops who have agreed to the establishment of an Anglican Use parish will be reluctant to see their generous gesture result in a potential pastoral problem.

  • Mr Grumpy

    I don’t see any irony here: I was talking about communication within the Ordinariate, not centrally issued press releases about it (which I agree are done well).

    Any charity the Ordinariate receives is wonderful and I do indeed hope the Holy Father’s request will be taken to heart. The danger I see is a passive and entitled attitude on the part of its’ members.

  • Little Black Censored

    … without any veto at all to the local bishop.
    Fr Hunwicke and several others have been refused ordination by diocesan bishops, so in practice there is a veto. How independent can the Ordinary be? He still has a minder assigned to him – why has that person not been given his marching orders?

  • Little Black Censored

    Vincent Nichols recently said that the “formation” of priests to be reordained for the Ordinariate would not be done so quickly in future. Why should this be any concern of his?

  • Jacob R

    The Diocese of Orange County recently bought and will soon occupy the old Crystal Cathedral in Southern California (built by the charismatic founder of a popular upstart modernist church connected to the Reformed Church in America, in fact he picked the Catholics over a local university because he knew they’d use it to worship Christ).

  • Anonymous

    The question is: how many of the Bishops’ Conference are actually Catholic? Certainly, certain members see themselves as equals to BXVI and are on record as their “man not being elected” to the papacy.

  • David Lindsay

    The Forward in Faith constituency, and probably that organisation, produced both of the homosexually inclined bishops appointed under George Carey, one of whom is still in office while still living with his very long-term male partner. As Cardinal Hume said of those whom he had to turn away in 1992-4, “I can cope with married priests or celibate priests, but not those in between”. There are an awful lot of those in between, including at the very highest levels of Forward in Faith. But they seem to be the people in it keenest on the Ordinariate. Should we be?
     
    This provision may be playing well in London, at Oxford and on the South Coast. But in all parts north (and, no doubt, west), it is being dismissed as an irrelevance and an absurdity. I come from a USPG missionary background, and I am an erstwhile Chapel Warden of Saint Chad’s College, Durham. I have given up counting the number of old friends who have told me things like, “If I were going to become a Roman Catholic, then I would just get on and do it”, and, even better, “If you are going to do it, then you should do it properly, and become part of a normal Roman diocese and parish”. Quite.
     
    We always knew that those joining the Ordinariate had no claim to their church buildings, almost all of which in the Forward in Faith constituency belong to that half of the Church of England’s which were erected in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Anglo-Catholicism having been a major driving force behind such building programmes, coinciding as it did with industrialisation and urbanisation (and also, therefore, with the Catholic Revival), so that the Forward in Faith constituency is disproportionately concentrated in those newer buildings. Such goings on are practically unheard of in the Medieval churches of Midsomer, Emmerdale or Ambridge, although that is not necessarily true of a certain resistance to the ordination of women.
     
    The Ordinariate priests are therefore doing little or nothing more than offering another more-or-less traditional and ritualistic celebration of the Ordinary Form in a church which, having the sort of priest who is willing to host the Ordinariate, already has several such every Sunday. The Ordinariate was given permission to pioneer the new, accurate translation of the Mass, but that put them only a couple of months ahead of the rest of us. And it had nothing to do with any “Anglican patrimony”.
     
    If the Ordinariate followed the general pattern of Anglo-Catholicism, then, beyond London and the South Coast which have histories of their own, it would become thicker on the ground the further north or west you went, with a strong showing in Wales. The alleged Catholic sympathies of the Episcopal Church in Scotland have always been rather more complicated than has often been suggested, Scotland having been telling one of those Anglican Provinces, along with Canada and New Zealand, where hardly any opposition to the ordination of women has ever been expressed. But even so, three or four groups might have been expected to show interest.
     
    Yet the opposite is the case. The Ordinariate is concentrated heavily in the South, and very heavily in the South East. At whatever stage, while it does exist, it does so only barely in Wales, or Scotland, or old citadels such as Devon, Cornwall, and South Yorkshire. Or, indeed, in the Diocese of Durham, which has been in something approaching a state of civil war ever since November 1992, and where Forward in Faith holds three of the six lay seats on the General Synod, but where interest has been expressed by precisely one parish, a legendary, and undoubtedly thriving, “shrine” with no discernible “Anglican patrimony”.
     
    There are also a good many such “shines” in and around Sunderland, for example. But even they have shown no apparent inclination to join the Ordinariate. The incense belt either side of the Tees, partly in Durham and partly in York, has no Ordinariate take-up whatever. All Saints, North Street in York itself, one of extremely few places where they really are still using the sort of Tridentine Rite translated into Cranmerian English for which the Ordinariate was conceived, is also conspicuously absent, as is the very similar Saint Stephen On-The-Cliffs in Blackpool. And as, indeed, is the entire Diocese of Blackburn, into which East Lancashire parishes currently under Bradford are resisting transfer because it is so High and because two out of the three bishops, including the diocesan, do not ordain women to the presbyterate.
     
    One could go on. Meanwhile, the recently resigned Bishop of Fulham joins his most recent predecessor among the monsignori, the recently resigned Bishop of Richborough becomes Ordinary to his only predecessor, and the recently resigned Bishop of Ebbsfleet is set to be joined in the Ordinariate by the Folkestone final parish of the more recent of his two deceased predecessors, my late father’s successor but one in Saint Helena, although he certainly did not use the Roman Rite there. But the Bishop of Beverley and the Retired Bishop of Beverley, neither of them anything less than the most dyed-in-the-wool of Anglo-Catholics, both remain in the Church of England.

    The heavy concentration in the South East, where Anglo-Catholicism has, to put it politely, a certain ambiance, rather accounts for the attitude of the Ordinariate’s noisiest media enthusiast. Bluntly, damian Thompson might want the church in those parts to become even gayer than She already is (and that in the separatist, high camp, often highly promiscuous way of the Rocky Horror Show generation), but should we? Do you?

  • Daniel

    The Anglican Use parishes are not territorial parishes but personal parishes.  They are basically the forerunners of the Personal Ordinariate.  Each one is a personal parish for the entire diocese, and someone living right next door would not be considered a  parishoner by virtue of living there but rather would be in the territory of another parish and would only go there by choice.  There are only three parishes as far as having their own facilities, which is fewer than the number that were being prepared to enter through the Pastoral Provision 30 years ago,  There are a couple of other communities that have been around about as long having services at other facilities that never grew, which I expect in part might have been that they were discouraged from having others wander in and settle down.  For many years I believe there were no new communities until one was finally established not many years ago in Scranton which formed an Anglican Use Society while holding services in a church building that I believe was otherwise slated for closing.  Another community was added in Kansas City under similar circumstances.  Those that attend the services there do so by their own choice.  The older parishes are baptizing the babies of babies that were baptized there 20+ years ago.  The only pastoral problem might be that if some of the parishes are allowed to  join the Ordinariate it might have an actual chance at success.  Instead, it is said to be starting from scratch and cannot even pay the Ordinary so that he can leave his faculty post to devote anything other than his “free hours” to the Ordinariate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adrian-Johnson/100002117620278 Adrian Johnson

    History shows that  dynamic new entities in the Church usually endure much disdain and ill feeling from the self-righteous vested in the status quo.  They act like the “elder brother” of the prodigal son parable) Like the Pharisees in Acts 5:34-39, they do not recognize the work of the Holy Spirit, “doing a new thing” in the Ordinariate.  By their ultimately futile opposition, they merely indicate the irresistible power of God.   

    Over 25 years ago many American Bishops were opposed to the Anglican Use, the prototype of the Anglican Ordinariate. Yet despite poverty, misunderstanding, and occasional downright rudeness from some of them, the  
    Anglican Use groups flourished, drawing not only former Anglicans, but devout former Lutherans, Methodists, and Baptists–and countless “reverts,” formerly fallen-away Catholics whose faith was rekindled by the beauty and reverence of the Ordinariate liturgy. 

     More than that, the mature parishes are producing an unusual number of devout young  vocations specifically for the Ordinariate priesthood. 

    If God is for the Anglican Ordinariate, who can stand against it? 

  • Daniel

     Of the original parishes preparing to enter full communion with the Catholic Church under the Pastoral Provision having set up a proto-diocese of St. Augustine of Canterbury in waiting, two in Los Angeles that were meant to be first were turned down at the 11th hour when the Cardinal’s Ecumenical committee felt that it might harm relations with the Episcopal Church.  One in Austin and another in Las Vegas that did make it in were suppressed in later years under new bishops that weren’t so interested. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adrian-Johnson/100002117620278 Adrian Johnson

    Even if at the present time the Ordinariate has more people in the London area, it might  be a good idea to have a modestly sized “principal church” in the North–”out of the way”.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adrian-Johnson/100002117620278 Adrian Johnson

    The American Ordinariate centered in Houston, Texas, has a powerful friend and mentor in the young and dynamic Cardinal Archbishop of Houston, Daniel DiNardo. The Houston Archdiocese is wealthy even in this economy, and the Fr Steenson, the Ordinary, even if he has no salary to speak of, will not be allowed to starve.  

    Cardinal DiNardo is a powerful and positive ambassador for the Ordinariate amongst the American Catholic Bishops, which the old Anglican Use Personal Parishes did not have until very lately. And many of the bishops originally hostile to the establishment of AU parishes are near retirement, or are already retired.  

    The American Ordinariate appears on the verge of a much improved dynamic.

  • Anonymous

    “The US ordinariate has only just been founded: but already they have a principal church. Ours doesn’t: why is that?”

    ## Could it be that, compared to the US, with its massive numbers of everything, the comparatively tiny Church in England & Wales simply does not count ? We have one Cardinal (two, if O’Brien (an Irishman !) is reckoned as an honorary Angle for the present purpose) – they have ten at least. And there is no doubt as to which Church has the more cash. The US Church has a freedom of movement, and possibly a prestige, that we over here do not.  It may also be significant the US Church has EWTN, & other such expressions of lay attitudes. We, OTOH… And perhaps this country is simply not as fertile ground for a religious undertaking as the US is. People there talk about religion very freely; they are “enthusiastic” in a way not very common in this country.

  • Anonymous

     Thank you for your further information and correction of my mistake about the number and nature of the Anglican Use parishes. Even in these days where so much information is available on-line, I have not been able to find a really accurate description of how Anglican Use parishes in general have fared over the last 30 years.

  • John Bowles

    O’Brien is a Scot I think you’ll find. Not much difference between Paddy and Jock from where you’re standing, but it does seem to matter quite a lot over here!

  • John Bowles

    I suspect that Archbishop Nicholls and his crew just realise they’ve had a dead cat lobbed over their garden fence.

  • Lindi

    Wouldn’t it be an example of Christian love for the bishops of England and Wales to ask each parish to have a collection  for the Ordinariate?