Friends of the Ordinariate launched to help raise funds for its priests

A new initiative to support struggling members of the Personal Ordinariate financially was launched yesterday by its Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton.

The group, the Friends of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, was founded after Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, called on Catholics “to assist the new ordinary in the unique mission that has been entrusted to him by the Holy Father not only with your prayers but also with every practical support”.

During the launch, at the Friary in Victoria, London, Mgr Newton said that the annual running costs of the ordinariate would reach £1 million and would eventually increase. He said that many ordinariate clergy not only have wives but dependent children as well.

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Mgr Newton said: “I have the responsibility for providing the financial needs of the clergy and for their families being received into the Catholic Church. I appeal, therefore, to as many of you as possible for financial assistance to help me fulfil that responsibility through joining the Friends of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Please be as generous as you can.”

In a statement earlier, he had said: “These former Anglican priests and religious have sacrificed their homes and livelihoods to become Catholics. A number of them are not only married but have dependent children. Naturally, the Church of England ceased to have financial responsibility for them on their resignation from office.”

Testimonies were presented by Fr Paul Burch, who has four children, and Fr Jonathan Redvers Harris, who has five. Fr Harris said: “We have no savings, no property, our car is on its last legs, and to help things along my wife has prematurely drawn her very modest civil service pension.”

Fr Redvers Harris and Fr Paul Birch explained that in their former role as Anglican priests they had a guarateed pension and a house until they were 70. At present, the ordinariate provides no such security.

Patrons of the new group include Charles Moore, the Duke of Norfolk and Fra’ Matthew Festing, Grand Master of the Order of Malta.

At the press conference Mgr Newton said he hoped the ordinariate would have a church in London “within a few months”.

Mgr John Broadhurst, who assists Mgr Newton in his role as Ordinary, was asked about the donation of £1 million by the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, an Anglo-Catholic charity, to the ordinariate. The donation has prompted a complaint to the Charity Commission from one Anglican minister. Mgr Broadhurst said “all indications” were that the Charity Commission would dismiss the complaint.

He said: “The trustees thought this was, in good faith, a better way to further their aims and objectives.” He cited its purpose as “the advancement of the Catholic faith in the Anglican tradition”.

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