Cardinal Levada urges Catholics to support the ordinariate at a fundraising event in London

One of the Vatican’s most senior cardinals last night urged Catholics to support the ordinariate, saying it was a personal project of Pope Benedict XVI.

Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), was speaking at a fundraising event sponsored by the Friends of the Ordinariate and The Catholic Herald.

During a short speech he said the ordinariate was viewed by the Vatican in a similar way to the Ambrosian Rite, a form of liturgy that is at least 1,200 years old, used by about five million Catholics mainly in Italy.

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He said the ordinariate “is really his [the Pope’s] project”, and described it as a “important new structure in the Church”.

The cardinal said: “We all want to give the support of our prayers to the ordinariate. In these delicate times there is a need for financial support.”

Mgr Keith Newton, the leader of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, said the ordinariate was a “small and fragile plant”.

He said that £50,000 had been raised already through advertisements in The Catholic Herald. “In the long term we want to be self-financing,” he said. “We rely on people’s generosity.” Mgr Newton said in July that the annual running costs of the ordinariate would be £1 million.

The Personal Ordinariate of England and Wales was formally established by the CDF in January for Anglicans who wished to enter into full communion with Rome while retaining some of their Anglican patrimony.

In a letter at the time Cardinal Levada said it was a “unique and historic moment” in the life of the English Church.

Guests at the reception included the bloggers Fr Tim Finigan, Fr Ray Blake, Fr Sean Finnegan and Joanna Bogle.

Also present were Downton Abbey creator Lord Fellowes, former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Guthrie, and historian Eamon Duffy.

The event was hosted by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster in the Throne Room at Archbishop’s House, Westminster. It was organised by Peter Sefton-Williams, a trustee of the Friends of the Ordinariate and chairman of Aid to the Church in Need.

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