Nuncio says the gift is a sign of the 'special place the ordinariate holds' in the Pope's heart

Pope Benedict XVI has donated over $250,000 (£150,000) to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, in what is described as a “great help” by the ordinary.

The Apostolic Nuncio for Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, who is said to have been instrumental in securing Pope Benedict’s assistance, said: “The Holy Father’s gift of $250,000 is a clear sign of his personal commitment to the work of Christian unity and the special place the ordinariate holds in his heart. I pray for the continuing success and development of the Ordinariate.”

Speaking after the announcement of the gift, the nuncio spoke of the need for further fundraising: “I urge all those who share our Holy Father’s vision to lend their spiritual and material support to the ordinariate, especially in these early days.”

When addressing the bishops of England and Wales at their plenary conference last week, Archbishop Mennini referred specifically to the ordinariate and appealed to the bishops to continue to offer their support and generosity.

He said: “I know that the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has already been mentioned but, this year, as you probably know, Mgr Keith Newton kindly invited me to preside at their Chrism Mass, an occasion which I must say that I found moving and prayerful. Do please continue to be generous in your support of their endeavours. In a time of recession and of diminishing resources we are all finding ourselves having to take difficult decisions, and not just financial ones.”

Responding to the gift, the ordinary Mgr Keith Newton said: “I am very grateful to the Holy Father for his generosity and support. This gift is a great help and encouragement as we continue to grow and develop our distinctive ecclesial life, whilst seeking to contribute to the wider work of evangelisation in England and Wales.”

Mgr Newton expressed his gratitude for the Apostolic Nuncio’s vocal support. He said: “The support and encouragement given to us by the Apostolic Nuncio has been very significant.

“We were very pleased to welcome him as the principal celebrant of our Chrism Mass: a clear sign of our deep desire to remain closely united the Holy Father,” Mgr Newton said.

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was established in January 2011 to enable Anglicans to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church. It comprises around 1,200 lay faithful and 60 clergy spread across the Britain.

The ordinariate welcomed over 250 new members this Easter, and two men in their 20s were ordained. Auxiliary Bishop Alan Hopes of Westminster will ordain deacons for the ordinariate later this month at Westminster Cathedral.

Although the sum of money donated by Pope Benedict is substantial the cost of running the ordinariate on an annual basis is estimated at £1 million, including the cost of supporting priests’ families. In July 2011 a charity, Friends of the Ordinariate, was established to support the ordinariate.