Ruth Gledhill of the Times (London), asked the following questions of the Archbishop of Westminster and the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, during the Press Conference following the Spring Plenary Session of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales:
Ruth Gledhill: Archbishop, can I ask you – as the ordinations draw closer – what special gifts the Ordinariate will bring the Catholic Church?
+VN: I think what we’ve seen already is that the communities of people who have come into the Catholic Church and have been preparing for their full reception during Lent, and are now continuing that process bring, I think more than anything in my mind, a sharper sense of mission to the local community.
There is one group I’m aware of who, within an hour, said of the church where they were meeting, ‘What happens here during the week? We think we could do all sorts of things in this building, in relationship to the local community once we get going’. So I think there is that particular sense of enthusiasm for mission that I think we will benefit from greatly.
There is also, in some places, a strong musical tradition. So, again, in one place I know I think three organists and two cantors have arrived, which are jolly helpful, and I think also it’s clear that there’s a very complementary tradition of prayer and of spirituality that I think from which we will learn again. You might like to ask Keith that question too.
RG: I will in just a sec. I gather that, already, some Ordinariate priests are likely to be asked to fill in where there are shortages of Catholic priests.
+VN: It’s always been understood that the Ordinariate and the dioceses will work in a complementary way, and therefore it’s always understood that priests of the Ordinariate work, and are partners with, the priests of the dioceses in the work of the Church. And I don’t think there’s any surprise or any other expectations other than they will share in the broader work of the Church as their duties in the Ordinariate permit.
RG: Where are we in terms of finding them a Church in London?
+VN: Well, they haven’t got any priests yet apart from Keith and a few, so that will come in due course.
RG: So I will ask Fr Keith, what gifts you think that you bring to your new community?
KN: Well, I think the Archbishop has said what’s important in that it’s about a sense of mission – that comes from those Anglican priests who have been involved in the Established Church and so there’s been a sense of looking out to the wider community just from the congregation, I think that’s important. I think there’s the musical thing – and that’s particularly true of hymnody – though we haven’t got lots of musicians there will be a question about what sort of hymnody we use and I hope that that will be of benefit to the wider Church.
I think what we bring is ourselves really, and our history – and we bring that into the Catholic Church – and hopefully enrich it and we’ll be enriched by the Catholic Church ourselves. But I think we’ll only see that as the Ordinariate develops – but I think the complementarity of it is really important.