An ordinariate is close to being established in America, Cardinal Donald Wuerl said during his visit to Scotland last week.
As Vatican delegate for the US ordinariate Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, said he had been watching developments in Britain with great interest and was confident that the establishment of the US ordinariate was imminent this autumn.
The cardinal also said that discussions with the Episcopal Church had included plans for the transfer of property.
He was speaking before he received a US Episcopalian parish into the Catholic Church yesterday in anticipation of the ordinariate being established there.
The cardinal was visiting Stirling to address the National Conference of Priests and Permanent Deacons of Scotland.
He told the Scottish Catholic Observer: “I am hoping that it will happen in this calendar year that an ordinariate will be announced.”
“There will be a time lag between the Holy See announcing that it intends to establish an ordinariate and the actual date of its implementation but I am still hopeful that before this year is out an US ordinariate will be established,” he said.
“We are moving forward with the examination of the cases of at least 100 clergy and several thousand Anglicans who want to come into the Catholic Church as groups. In two weeks’ time I will be receiving an entire parish into the Church and confirming around 120 people. This is being done in anticipation of the ordinariate.”
A great deal of work has already been done on the US ordinariate, he said. “We have had wonderful accord between the Episcopal diocese of Washington, and its bishop, and our archdiocese,” he said.
Cardinal Wuerl, who before last week had not visited Scotland since he was a student, said he saw parallels between the issues British Catholics are facing and those in his own Archdiocese of Washington DC.
When asked for his advice on opposing same-sex marriage and protecting Catholic adoption agencies, issues he has championed, he said: “There is a need to sustain the Church’s religious liberty no matter what civil law chooses to enact. Catholics, people of any religion, must be free to exercise their conscience.”
The cardinal said there was an acute need for Catholics in Britain, as in America to be “missionaries in our own countries”.
He said Catholics had to recognise “that we do have a significant number of people right close at home who have drifted away from the faith”.
“They should be the object of our efforts, our missionary efforts, our outreach, our evangelisation efforts,” he said.
“We have to recognise that the whole atmosphere around us is secular and heavily materialistic,” he said. “The New Evangelisation is all about recalling for people the spiritual dimension to their existence. Each one of us is called to a relationship with God. Each one of us is invited to encounter the Risen Lord. It is precisely in that relationship with God that we find our true meaning and joy and the goal of life.”
The cardinal added: “I think this is a whole new moment in the life of the Church. There is a generation coming along that realises there is something missing, that the secular and the material cannot answer every question. And so this is our time to tell them all over again about Jesus.”
The cardinal said that Pope Benedict XVI, who established a Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, had called on Catholics to “re-propose” the faith. It is a message, he said, that the Holy Father underlined during his visits to Britain and Germany. “At the heart of the New Evangelisation is the need for each one of us believers to renew and deepen our own faith so that we are confident enough to share it with others,” he said.
Cardinal Wuerl said that part of the challenge of the New Evangelisation was to close the gap between faith and reason that has emerged in secular society and which limits “the whole richness the spiritual dimension of our life brings”.
“There is a need for more than just the physical science to answer the great questions of life,” he said. “How shall I live? What are the values that should motivate my life? these are not answerable from the physical sciences.”
The cardinal, chairman of the board of directors of the National Catholic Educational Association in America, also said that adult faith foundation “really is and has to be a focus in the Church today” and that the RCIA was “great tool” in bringing people to an adult understanding of the Catholic faith.