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Ordinariate receives controversial £1m donation

By on Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Priests of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (Photo: Mazur)

Priests of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (Photo: Mazur)

A 150-year-old Anglo-Catholic charity has given £1 million to Britain’s Personal Ordinariate – enough to keep it financially afloat for up to a year.

The money, donated by the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, will ensure that priests in the ordinariate will not be left penniless in the coming months. It represents almost half of the charity’s total assets.

Trustees agreed to the grant after checking with lawyers that it would be compatible with the charity’s objects – namely, “the advancement of the Catholic faith in the Anglican tradition”.

The Confraternity changed its rules in April last year so that ordinariate priests could become members. Five out of six of its trustees have now been ordained as priests in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

But one Anglican minister has already lodged a complaint with the Charity Commission and written letters of protest to Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and the Pope. The Rev Paul Williamson, from Hanworth, south-west London, said the grant was a “disgrace”. A Facebook group opposing it has attracted nearly 300 members.

Mgr Keith Newton, the head of the ordinariate, said the grant guaranteed an income for its priests. He said: “A million pounds sounds like a lot of money but it’s not an awful lot to run something like an ordinariate. It needs at least a million pounds a year – and that’s without thinking that it will grow.”

Mgr Newton said there was still “a lot of work to do”, citing pensions as well as life and health insurance costs for clergy. But he said that all of the 60 or so ordinariate priests now had somewhere to live. “It’s a great relief,” he said.

Fr Christopher Pearson, superior general of the Confraternity, said he would be consulting in the coming year on whether Catholics should be allowed to remain members, and if it could continue to exist as an Anglican charity.

He defended the grant against criticism, saying that the Confraternity was never a Church of England society. He said that when it was founded in 1862 priests who reserved the Blessed Sacrament or led Benediction risked imprisonment. Its assets, he said, did not originate from the Church of England either. He said they were largely down to the investment of donations from the 19th century.

Fr Pearson also pointed out that critics of the grant “had their own incomes, churches, tabernacles, chalices”, but priests in the ordinariate did not.

The Confraternity has also given £10,000 to three Walsingham nuns who joined the ordinariate at the start of the year. According to Fr Pearson, the money paid for “clothes, shoes and housing”.

It is understood that trustees cannot benefit from the £1 million grant.

The Confraternity, which has about 120 priest members in England and 1,500 worldwide, was founded by the Rev Thomas Carter, a prominent Anglo-Catholic, in 1862.

Its six trustees are supposed to be elected by district councils of priest members, or associates, but some of these councils have not met in decades. In these cases the appointment is made by the superior general.

On its website the Confraternity states: “There is no more precious thing in the world than the Blessed Sacrament of the altar and our joy is to help … others to regard as such this most precious gift: Christ’s own abiding Presence among us.”

  • Uillidh

    Yes, the stock answer is not only theologically illiterate but has logical consequences which I doubt any of them would wish to accept. I am amazed at the number of perfectly intelligent men who have managed to convince themselves of this leakier-than-a-rusty-sieve argument.

  • Jason

    Which order? Where have they been housed?

    Is this something you know or are you making it up?

  • Little Black Censored

    “No Catholic priest should retain membership of an Anglican Society like
    this, which is maintaining devotion to bread. The Church of England has
    no valid orders and no authentic real presence.”

    For the purposes of rational discussion this kind of assertion is a waste of space. It is the technique of the school playground.

  • Paul Halsall

    It is insulting to call Anglican priests “ministers”.

    And this seems to be outright theft, morally if not legall.

    The Archbishop of Westminster needs to act.

  • radicalj

    I cannot see any justification within the current charitable aims of CBS to make a large or any donation to a Roman Catholic quango which does not recognise Anglican orders and will not allow Anglicans to receive the Blessed Sacrament at its Masses. Why did CBS not take the matter to its members and the Charity Commission before unilaterally changing its aims and principles? Were the trustees being entirely honest with themselves or were they just plain naive? Of great offence to many CBS members was the decision to grant £10,000 to the Walsingham nuns who left their sisters to join the Ordariate without, it seems, a thought for their well-being. All monies should be returned and the Ordinariate take time to reflect on the wisdom of its unseemly dash to the Roman Catholic fold.

  • Amused Catholic

    I find some of the complaints about this from Anglicans hilarious.

    If you find this ‘theft’ problematic, then you won’t mind returning all the churches and land you ‘stole’ from the Roman Catholic Church in the Reformation, will you?

  • Uillidh

    At last! I’m astonished it’s taken so long for someone to come out with this – I expected it to be pretty much the first (indeed, sole) line of defence. “Because of [our take on] what happened five centuries ago, we’re entitled in perpetuity to help ourselves ad libitum to the contents of your bank accounts.” Who’d argue with that, eh?

  • Rowancarstairs

    Your Immoral and sacrilegious king Henry VIII stole the very fabric of Catholic Church for his and his cronies debauched greed, leaving the poor bereft of monastic help and care and all that Catholicism offered to the people of God. He stole from the people their Church, the Catholic Church. Please do not tell me that this was for the good of the faithful, that is a lie so blatant even Cromwell could not pronounce. 

  • Uillidh

    So, to be clear: are you claiming that this somehow makes the action of the CBS trustees in making off with half the funds of an Anglican charity morally justifiable, or are you just posting a random rant unrelated to the subject of this blog?

  • Little Black Censored

    “Your” King Henry? Yours as well. The churches were in effect nationalized in the 16th century; how can you possibly apportion “blame” to people living now?

  • Parasum

    Sometimes ordinations are found to have been invalid – so a sane person could believe those two things about himself, quite easily.

    As for Anglicans or former Anglicans being liars, that is not implied at all;
    an Anglican clergyman can perfectly well be in good faith as a high Anglican offering the Mass (as some do);
    and also be in good faith on being received into the CC as a layman (from Rome’s POV);
    and also be in good faith as a priest in the CC.

    And all of this, without at any stage regarding his earlier Christian life as a lie. This is not really a different problem than for those who are Catholic laity but used to be C of E laity.

  • Parasum

    “Papalists also worship “bits of bread”–the ACCIDENTS of bread (and wine).”

    Not so. We worship Christ Our Eucharist, not the accidents of the Gift that contains the Eucharistic Presence. What our presences are manifested by, is not who we are; and the same is true of the Eucharistic Christ.

  • Parasum

    If marital ethics in 1534 had been what they are now, England might still be in union with Rome. It’s good to know somebody, somewhere, had the guts to read him the Riot Act.

  • Little Black Censored

    “…they now have to acknowledge retrospectively that the same validity applied to all those ordained ladies…”
    I bet they don’t acknowlege it; they certainly don’t have to, any more than they would have to accept a mass celebrated with tea and biscuits, supposing that had been done.

  • Charles Martel

    AgingProtestant at his little tricks again. Don’t bother, everyone. He’s a troll.

  • Amused Catholic

    Er, only I didn’t say that.

    Just return the property you stole five centuries ago.

    The land and churches are mainly still in existence and we need them now for the Ordinariate to worship in.

    Just because you stole something a long time ago doesn’t make it yours now.

  • Terberg455

    A good point and we sing well too

  • Terberg455

    So was Thomas a Becket

  • ex CBS

    > an Anglican clergyman can perfectly well be in good faith as a high Anglican offering the Mass (as some do); and also be in good faith on being received into the CC as a layman (from Rome’s POV); and also be in good faith as a priest in the CC.

    I don’t see how he could do it from his own POV, unless he suddenly came to believe that his ordination as an Anglican was invalid and he really *was* a layman and always had been. But in that case, why all these grotesque ‘Farewell Masses’, etc?

    As for a lay person, I couldn’t become an RC unless I came to believe that my Confirmation was invalid, and that I had never communicated at a valid Mass, received valid absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, etc. Of course, if I *did* come to believe those things I would become an RC right away. But I don’t see how someone could in good faith become an RC while still believing that he had been validly confirmed and had received the Eucharist and other sacraments validly.

  • ex CBS

    > Sometimes ordinations are found to have been invalid – so a sane person could believe those two things about himself, quite easily. It would, of course, be perfectly possible for someone to believe himself a Catholic priest and then discover that his ordination had been invalid, with the result that he was a layman after all.
    But I don’t see how any sane person could stand at the altar one day believing himself to be a Catholic priest offering a valid Catholic Mass *while at the same time believing, as he does so, that next morning, when he has arranged to be received into the Ordinariate, he will suddenly become a layman again.

    Yet some who have joined the Ordinariate have obviously done this very thing, otherwise they wouldn’t continue to act as priests while waiting to join the Ordinariate, having come to the conclusion (as everyone *ipso facto* must on joining the Ordinariate) that he was never a priest at all but has been a layman all along.

  • Polycarp

    Offer a generous wish and prayer for the Confraternity for helping our new Ordinariate priests who are in need and who celebrate the consecration and distribution of Jesus’ Body and Blood ensuring His precious presence among us. Magnificient courageous men showing us how to love God to the fullest.


  • Nicholas Pnematicatos

    Disgraceful. It is an Anglican Society whatever Mr Pearson says and even if they are legally entitled to give the money to the Ordinariate, morally they have no right to do so. Shame on them.

  • a concerned Catholic

    There are other scandals relating to the Ordinariate that will eventually become clear.

    It is odd that Catholic agencies that dealt with adoption could not change their Trust Deed to uphold that Traition, but this Charity can undermine the reason for its very existence to support the RC Church. Members of the Ordinariate are no longer Anglicans and in becoming Catholics they denied the validity of their previous ministry.

    Rome normally gets an “offering”, of some kind when people become Monsignors, and they are normally nominated by someone not randomly appointed by Rome. What pot of money did that offering come from? And to paraphrase an important figure in history, wouldn’t that money have been better spent on pensions etc?

  • AgingPapist

    The CofE isn’t returning any of those churches to the Catholic Church. The decision wouldn’t be made by the CofE anyway. It would undoubtedly require Parliamentary approval and that isn’t about to be obtained.  Why should these churches be returned to papalists who would only ruin them with their dreadfully boring liturgies and have the most abominable philistines in the  priesthood assigned to them. Only to destroy their historic character.

  • Little Black Censored

    “Just return the property you stole five centuries ago.”
    This is “professional victim” language, as well as being nonsense. Define “you”; if these people did something wrong five centuries ago, you can’t talk to them now. Define “stole”. And who could have stopped the “stealing”? and look at what happened to those who tried.
    Another Amused Catholic

  • jng

    I hesitate to get involved in this, as there is a hint of vitriol in the discussion, but perhaps it should be suggested that, although it takes longer than blogging, Uillidh reads John Henry Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua.  Or, should he have read it, to read it again with more care.  Then, perhaps, he would appreciate better the courage and integrity, including intellectual integrity, many of these, previously Anglican, clergymen and nuns have needed to reach their decision, and have demonstrated by carrying it out, not to mention the soundness of their theology.  If the theology is the problem, he can take it up with Cardinal Newman.  There’s plenty of material there.

  • Delvillewood

    Its attitude like yours Amused Catholic which makes it impossible for the Roman Catholic Church to be taken seriously in England. Bigotry reigns.  We need evidence of patriotism from you and your chums.

  • ex CBS

    > the courage and integrity, including intellectual integrity, many of these, previously Anglican, clergymen and nuns have needed to reach their decision, and have demonstrated by carrying it out

    I can see courage and integrity when Anglican priests suddenly realise they have been nothing but deluded laymen all along, and therefore immediately submit to Rome as the unconfirmed laymen they have discovered themselves to be. But where is the courage and integrity – indeed, where is the common honesty – in saying, “Yes, look at me, I’m a Catholic priest today as I offer this Farewell Mass in my finest chasuble and laciest alb, with my maniple dangling from my arm and my biretta with its purple tuft ready to be donned as I go off the the farewell party, but I’m going to be a simple layman in suit and tie tomorrow when I’m received into the Ordinariate”?

  • Jason

    Perhaps the Rev Paul Williamson should take a close look at the walthamstow ordinarite to see how “the advancement of the Catholic faith in the Anglican tradition” worked for the abandoned former anglicans there!

  • Jason

    Your right. The roman catholic ordinariate trustees cannot isolate themselves from this perverse corruption by valueless statements such as this. 

  • Uillidh

    I’m well acquainted with the Apologia, thanks. And I don’t recall Newman ever suggesting that the orders he received and exercised while an Anglican were valid within an Anglican context but not a Roman Catholic one (the “stock answer” to which Nugent Noags was referring). A man of his intelligence would certainly have known what a nonsense that argument was.

    I have too many valued and respected former colleagues now in the Ordinariate for me to wish to impugn their courage, and the personal integrity which has impelled them to follow their convictions at considerable cost to themselves and their families. But I have not found any of them willing to attempt an account of how they can hold together (1) a willingness to submit to absolute (re-)ordination, (2) a belief that they were already priests (and not distinctively “Anglican” priests, whatever that might mean, but priests of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church), and (3) an acceptance of Catholic teaching regarding the “sacrilege” of repeating the Sacrament of Order.

  • Alan

     I find this episode deeply distasteful.

    Can this be allowed? I hope not.
    Surely one can see the lack of the sort of honesty we should be seeking in fellow Catholics in the sorry tale.

    The fact they sought  the legal opinion of a senior lawyer and expected trouble indicates to me this is anything but wholesome.

    Is this the sort of double dealing and intrigue we can expect from this new addition?

    I have been shocked since I discovered this site at the sort of behaviour and attitudes thought acceptable while espousing the Catholic faith. this seems to me a further degradation.

  • rose gaudete

    Surely, they had to contribute somekind of rent. Please remember they left Walsingham with only the clothes they were wearing (which had to be returned) and £1,000 to feed, house & clothe all 3 sisters. They needed money urgently.

  • rose gaudete

    “the Walsingham nuns who left their sisters to join the Ordariate without, it seems, a thought for their well-being. ” – Not true. The 3 nuns expressed a desire to explore the possibility of joining the Ordinariate and were told to leave ASAP.

  • johnnewbery485

    There are some very uncharitable remarks on this page. Critics of the Ordinariate are in a bit of a bind really. Either the Holy Father must be wrong (for setting the thing up), or the CDF must be wrong (for incompetence of organisation). Since neither of these options are available, critics have to seize on events such as the CBS  donation to make snide remarks about those former Anglican priests who have since been ordained as Catholic priests.
    It is a fact that none of these have had to make any statements about how they view their former ministry before being ordained. So we are left with surmise and a trawl through past blogs to gain ‘evidence’. It is a bit like the McCarthy era (‘Are you now or have you ever been an Anglican minister?’), or to stay this side of the pond there seem to be several self-appointed Witchfinder Generals of the blogosphere.
    Is it possible to be nice to one another?

  • Alan

    johnnewbery485 Nobody should support snide remarks, I agree things are said on these threads that are frightful.

    I am complaining about the actions of trustees of a charity who are Catholic priests, nothing to do with the establishment of the Ordinariate.

    I believe their actions are a cause of scandal to the Church. The money has to go back or we are all tainted.


  • ex CBS

    > So we are left with surmise

    No. If someone accepts ordination de novo he must believe himself to be a layman. Any other belief is impossible. End of story.

  • Jamesmaherne

    being a lay Roman Catholic and not wishing to offend anyone I am having real problems understanding all
    this Ordinariate situation,I thought you convet to the Catholic Church full stop. whats this about bringing
    the Anglician “tradition” with you? Bl Newman and MCR Hugh Benson simply converted to Rome
    What excatly is the tradition everybody keeps talking about.iseem to recall that the Apostolic Tradition is that a married man who is Ordained the couple agrees to ” live as brother and sister” I think Cardinal Hume forgot
    that Instruction.Anway why has a similar “arrangement” been offered to the Society of Piusx? as I said at
    the start this is not meant to insult anyone,I am just trying to understand the situation,would it not have been
    far easier for the “Queen” and compant to admit Henry and Cranmer got it wrong and agreed to give back everything that was” nicked” from Rome including ” Mary,s Dowry”i suppose after over fifty years in the Roman
    Catholic Church myself I should be content with ” Peter has spoken”

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