Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ordinariate: Bricks and Mortar essential to Patrimony

I have been intrigued by Damian Thompson's piece on the Ordinariate, I have certainly been wondering about that illusive church and why the Nuncio should use the word "meticulous" to describe the bishops implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus and why despite what the Apostolic Constitution says the English and Welsh bishops seem to have a veto on ordinations. "When the Archbishop of Westminster came to talk to us", said a friend who is part of Allen Hall formation group, "he thanked Dr Wang for arranging the very speedy Formation prior to ordination, and (tellingly) added "I don't think we'll let it happen so quickly in future". I am not sure that is what Anglicanorum Coetibus says.
I checked out Damian's story with another Ordinariate friend and received this email, emphasis is mine:

DT is right, of course, but to a point. It's unfair to suggest (as he does I think) that the Ordinariate leadership are holding this up - it's very difficult to ask for something when you have no money! That said, everyone I've spoken to about it seems to be of the mind that we must have churches soon, and I agree. These will not only ensure that the fragile Ordinariate Groups have a secure base and a future, but form a significant part of our fundraising initiatives. If people see that we have buildings to support, to beautify, and to establish our distinctive ecclesial life, they will respond. It's hard to get people to 'buy into' a project which, thus far, has been more on paper than anything else. They will also form important centres for evangelisation - one of the key aspects of Anglican pastoral practice is the subsequent evangelisation of those who come forward for occasional offices (baptisms, marriage, funerals, etc). If we are constantly referring such people to the Parish Priest of the church we live out of, that will never take off.

I am of the mind that we should take every single church building offered to us and make something of it whilst we're still on the crest of the wave.

We also need to ensure that Anglican clergy who approach the Ordinariate without groups are not encouraged not disappear to the diocese (unless, of course, that's what they really want). If Bishop X offers a church somewhere, we'll need clergy to go and plant it - at the moment almost all of the Ordinariate priests are looking after groups.
The slowness of the arrival of the Ordinariate liturgy is perhaps another factor but it is a Church building, a home, making the Ordinariate bricks and mortar that seems key. Bricks and mortar are essential to the patrimony.


David Lindsay said...

Some of us always knew, and I for one always said, that those joining the Ordinariate had no claim to their church buildings, almost all of which in the Forward in Faith constituency belong to that half of the Church of England’s which were erected in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Anglo-Catholicism having been a major driving force behind such building programmes, coinciding as it did with industrialisation and urbanisation (and also, therefore, with the Catholic Revival), so that the Forward in Faith constituency is disproportionately concentrated in those newer buildings. Such goings on are practically unheard of in the Medieval churches of Midsomer, Emmerdale or Ambridge, although that is not necessarily true of a certain resistance to the ordination of women.

The Ordinariate priests are therefore doing little or nothing more than offering another more-or-less traditional and ritualistic celebration of the Ordinary Form in a church which, having the sort of priest who is willing to host the Ordinariate, already has several such every Sunday. The Ordinariate was given permission to pioneer the new, accurate translation of the Mass, but that put them only a couple of months ahead of the rest of us. And, again, it had nothing to do with any “Anglican patrimony”.

If the Ordinariate followed the general pattern of Anglo-Catholicism, then, beyond London and the South Coast which have histories of their own, it would become thicker on the ground the further north or west you went, with a strong showing in Wales. The alleged Catholic sympathies of the Episcopal Church in Scotland have always been rather more complicated than has often been suggested, Scotland having been telling one of those Anglican Provinces, along with Canada and New Zealand, where hardly any opposition to the ordination of women has ever been expressed. But even so, three or four groups might have been expected to show interest.

Yet the opposite is the case. The Ordinariate is concentrated heavily in the South, and very heavily in the South East. At whatever stage, while it does exist, it does so only barely in Wales, or Scotland, or old citadels such as Devon, Cornwall, and South Yorkshire. Or, indeed, in the Diocese of Durham, which has been in something approaching a state of civil war ever since November 1992, and where Forward in Faith holds three of the six lay seats on the General Synod, but where interest has been expressed by precisely one parish, a legendary, and undoubtedly thriving, “shrine” with no discernible “Anglican patrimony”.

There are also a good many such “shines” in and around Sunderland, for example. But even they have shown no apparent inclination to join the Ordinariate. The incense belt either side of the Tees, partly in Durham and partly in York, has no Ordinariate take-up whatever. All Saints, North Street in York itself, one of extremely few places where they really are still using the sort of Tridentine Rite translated into Cranmerian English for which the Ordinariate was conceived, is also conspicuously absent, as is the very similar Saint Stephen On-The-Cliffs in Blackpool. And as, indeed, is the entire Diocese of Blackburn, into which East Lancashire parishes currently under Bradford are resisting transfer because it is so High and because two out of the three bishops, including the diocesan, do not ordain women to the presbyterate.

One could go on.

Et Expecto said...

There is surely a need for the Ordinariate to have at least one church building that it can call its own. London would, of course, be the obvious place for it, although it could be elsewhere.

Money is undoubtedly a difficulty, but so was money a difficulty for the hundreds of Catholic churches built in the ninteenth century after Catholic emancipation.

I would urge readers to help the process along by going to the website of the Friends of the Ordinariate and making a donation.

Marylebone Ordinariate Group said...

Those of us in the Marylebone Ordinariate Group would tend to agree with you, Father. There are obstacles to overcome, not least financial ones, but the courage and drive called for by Damian Thompson's post and by the recent opinion piece in the Catholic Herald should help us achieve that.

We would agree too that the Ordinariate must demonstrate that it uses the independence it has been given by Anglicanorum Coetibus. It shouldn't do this by being confrontational or unco-operative (let's leave that to others), but by constructive action and a clear sense of focus, as envisaged by the Holy Father.

Anonymous said...

The Australian Ordinariatre is not yet up and running (Pentecost, hopefully), but the Bishop responsible for its implementation has already arranged for a church and accomodation for the Melbourne group.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fr Ray Blake said...

I never normally allow anonymous comment - no more please

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

Actually, I think the most urgent priority for the Ordinariate isn't a church building or even money -- it's a bishop of its own. For as long as the Ordinariate is dependent on the other bishops for ordinations, the other bishops can control it.

Does the Ordinariate have a suitably senior celibate clergyman who is eligible for episcopal consecration? The "monsignori" leaders aren't enough.

Evagrius Ponticus said...


Are monasteries, therefore, controlled by the bishops? No.

I would say that the parallel structure of the ordinariate is closer in its setup to that of a religious order than that of a diocese. Or to put it differently, it's a kind of abbey-diocese. Of course, for that, it needs an abbey church...

Lazarus said...

Just on the Scottish situation. There are two (small) groups in the Ordinariate. Forward in Faith only had one parish in Scotland -and the former Parish Priest there (Fr Len Black) was ordained to the Ordinariate. Frankly, that's pretty much what I'd have expected to happen. Anglo-Catholicism in Scotland has long been mostly about liturgical practice -modernism in glad rags- so many serious Catholics had already left. Given that, any move to the Ordinariate was always going to be small, and that this is in fact the case shouldn't be seen as a failure. But may God bless those who had the courage to make it.

Dymphna said...

I still don't understand the Ordinariate. If someone wants to be Catholic why not just go to RCIA and convert?

Et Expecto said...

I have to disagree with David Lindsay. The ordinariate was designed, not so much for the extreme High Church "bells and Smells" element in the CofE, but for those that bilieve in Catholic doctrines like the "real presence", apostolic succession and papal supremacy. The extreme High Church people like those at All Saints, North Street, York were never likely to join the Ordinariate because they would no linger be able to do their own thing.

A feature of those groups that have already joined the ordinariate is that thay are all strongly clergy led. It seems that the prime requirement is a strong leader. Where this is absent, we are seeing converts taking the conventional route.

Reliable reports indicate that there are many more Anglican clergy (perhaps 300)planning to convert to Catholicism. Their problems are primarily financial. They do not have a group large enough to support a realistic salary, neither do they have confidence that they could earn an adequate living by doing outside work. Many are agonising over a real problem. Do they follow their consciences and convert at the expense of being unsure that whey will be able to support their families? This is a real dilemma, and many are delaying the decision.

A principal church of their own would give a great boost to confidence and encourage the movement to expand.

Fr Ray Blake said...

If you don't understand it, the read "Anglicanorum Coetibus" and "The Roman Option" by W Oddie.

Marylebone Ordinariate Group said...

Sorry to make a second comment on one post, but Dymphna's question is an issue we hear of relatively frequently, mostly from Anglicans who say that they don't see the point of the Ordinariate.

First of all, Fr Ray, your point about reading William Oddie's book is exactly right. The book is not only astonishingly prescient, but explains the background and rationale extremely clearly.

Second, if a bit of self-advertising can be forgiven, we addressed precisely this question (why not just go the usual way via RCIA) a couple of weeks ago on our own little group blog. The context was a discussion of those we unkindly called "deniers", who, regardless of everything happening around them, still proclaimed that the Church of England was more Catholic than Rome. Here is the relevant extract, picking up on Dymphna's point about the RCIA : amongst other things, the existence of the Ordinariate recognises that while both need formation/catechesis, what is necessary for a brand new Christian may not suit someone who been active in an Anglo-Catholic parish for 20+ years.

Sadly, those "in denial" usually like to make a big point of how the Ordinariate is irrelevant to them. They don't need to join the "Roman Church" and even if they ever did so, they proclaim that they would not join the Ordinariate.

Why do the "deniers" act like this? Perhaps, to some extent, fear of the unknown (and we can all understand that). Perhaps a sadness at having to face up their dream of a Church of England as the Catholic Church in this Land slipping away (again, an entirely legitimate emotion). There may be other reasons too.

One of the ultimate bêtes noires of the deniers is the question of ordination, and as a layman, I am going to steer well clear of that topic. The only thing I will say is that people who are anxious about how their own ministry up to that point will be regarded (very favourably, is the answer, including in a prayer of thanksgiving in the Ordination Service), should understand that the Ordinariate is one way in which the Holy Father shows that he most definitely values the existing ecclesial, liturgical and religious life of Anglicans, and that he wants to bring them in to the Catholic Church without treating them as if they knew absolutely nothing.

The establishment of the Ordinariate was about many things, not least a response to groups of Anglicans across the world who had asked for a way to come into communion with Rome as groups. However, it was also about recognising that Anglicans have something to bring with them. There has been much discussion about what Anglican Patrimony means, but certainly, one of the thing that the existence of the Ordinariate recognises is that incoming Anglicans do not arrive with a year zero level of knowledge. Often, a tailored programme of catechesis will be provided (in the same way that a tailored programme of priestly formation is provided for Ordinariate priests), acknowledging that these Anglicans are in a special position, they are not totally new to the Faith. One of our most popular blogposts talked about the shared beliefs between Anglo-Catholics and those already in the Catholic Church.

The Ordinariate should be understood for what it is, a means to welcome Anglicans in, if they want to make that journey, on a basis that values all that they have done thus far, that will build on their existing experience, knowledge and gifts, and doesn't treat them as if they know nothing.

The full text can be found here

Monsignor Newton has emphasised the value of this approach in public discussions.

Party for Fr. Jeffery W. Moore said...

In the interview in question +Nichols said the following concerning the bestowal of a church to the English Ordinariate, "the timing of it is not to be rushed, and nor should it be made into some sort of iconic issue: it isn’t." This is absolutely untrue. Of all the issues the beginning Ordinariates will face the issue of a physical church building is actually one of the most iconic issues, in the true sense of the word. An icon points us to another reality. When we look at an icon we see past the picture to the heavenly reality. In the same way, when we enter a church building we are in a spiritual sense transported to Heaven. If +Nichols doesn't think that buildings are one of the most important things for Catholics then perhaps he would be willing to give up his own for those who desire one?

Lazarus said...

On the point of the Ordinariate rather than the 'ordinary' way of entering the Church...

There's a lot here that could be said about the pastoral need not to put unnecessary cultural blocks in the way of conversion etc. But for me as an ex-Anglican who converted a good few years ago now, I see this as an historic opportunity to heal some of the wounds of the Reformation. In the five hundred or so years since, Protestantism has had many spiritual and cultural gifts, but has been cut off from the living organism of the Church. There is now an opportunity to bring back the many wonderful things that are in Anglicanism, and to graft them back onto the living body of Catholicism. That is a wonderful, historical moment, and we shouldn't lose sight of its importance, however many or however few courageous individuals take that step into the Ordinariate.

Veritas said...

Francis 16/12/11 1:31 AM

Swings & roundabouts. I am sure that the Vatican would have looked at all possible options before deciding that the admirable Mgr Newton should be the Ordinary to provide continuity of leadership.

Richard said...

The whole Ordinariate project seems to have been very poorly taken up. Fewer than 1000 laity have joined. I think the Archbishop is correct. Why would we want to burden them with the upkeep of a Cathedral and churches with so few to support them - it would be a burden. They must first grow or the project will be deemed a failure.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Richard: If the Ordinariate want a church they should be offered one. It should be up to them to decide whether it will be too much of a burden and they can decline. I think the ordinariate is very exciting and look forward to seeing it thriving. Not sure that some our Bishops share that view!

Richard said...

Nicolas, I don't think any group in the church is entitled to be given a church. There is nothing to stop the ordinariate raising funds to buy one or build their own.
Our canon law lecturer taught that it was not only the alienation of temporal goods that could undermine the stable patrimony of a church, but also the accepting of a gift which could become a burden on a chutch's resources.
Each diocese has several church buidlings earmarked for closure. I am sure that the Ordinariate could apply for any of these. However, can they afford to maintain and insure them? Surely their first priority must be to house their own families.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Richard: I never said they were entitled to being given a Church! The beggar in the street is not entitled to alms; one just has obligations!

I am glad your canon law lecturer taught that the alienation of temporal goods could undermine the stable patrimony of a church. He needs to shout that out a great deal louder - viz: our schools, our adoption societies and perhaps one day the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth so that they can do exactly as they want.

Julianne Chatfield said...

I find this whole discussion, that seems to have come out of the blue as all very strange. We are in the Ordinariate becasue we felt called to be there. Part of this calling is to discern what God wants us to do, as an individual group and in relation to the wider Ordinariate. At the moment it is very freeing not to have a building. OK we have to carry bits and pieces backwars and forwards and last week our my husband's stole had been moved so he had to have one of the parish ones but apart from that it is fine. We have received a warm and generous welcome from the local parish/ deanary and the diocesican bishop. There have been some misunderstandings about the nature of the Ordinariate but that is to be expected. We have only been having our own masses for six months. It is early days. Relationships are still being developed, discernemnt still taking place, a vision appearing slowly. Maybe I feel this way becasue our group doesn't fit the stereotype but then maybe no group does.

The Ordinariate will be what God calls it to be. If that at some point means bricks and mortar, then so be it. If not, so be it. We have to hold all things in balance. Your will Lord, not ours. I have read some of Damien Thingies' posts and sometimes I wish he would keep his opinions to himself.

epsilon said...

Well, as they say 'there's more than one way to skin a cat!'(sorry cat-lovers)!

Let the bishops drag their feet, here's an example of what is going on behind the scenes...