Elena Curti: What will the ex-Anglicans bring with them?

19 04 2011

Elena Curti writes on the Tablet blog:

This image showing the leader of the British ordinariate, Mgr Keith Newton, receiving a former Anglican into the Catholic Church last night, will be a familiar sight at a number of cathedrals this week. Mgr Newton and the other former Anglican bishops who have joined the Catholic Church will be busy in the coming days confirming some of the estimated 1,000 laity and clergy joining the ordinariate.

These new Catholics will give a huge boost to the numbers of adults who are received into the Church at this time of year after doing the RCIA course. It is a welcome boost at a time when the general trend for church attendance continues on a downward path. The latest evidence is contained in a study we report on in our Easter issue that suggests Catholic congregations will shrink by a quarter over the next 20 years.

So the big question is will the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham reinvigorate the Catholic Church? Are we seeing a trickle that will turn to a flood of traditional Anglicans bound for Rome? And what influence will these new faithful have on Catholic life and worship?

Since Ash Wednesday those bound for the ordinariate have been attending Mass in their local Catholic churches, but once the first wave of their clergy is ordained at Pentecost they will have their own Masses. Some have voiced the view that the ordinariate will become a sort of ghetto where Anglican patrimony will be a mark of difference and separation. Others believe Rome sees the ordinariate as marking the start of the long-prayed-for conversion of England. Under this scenario the former Anglicans will introduce (or should it be re-introduce) cradle Catholics to the riches of their worship. In addition as zealous converts they will remind them of the importance of strict obedience to the magisterium. Pope Benedict is surely hoping this will happen.


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