Damian Thompson: The Ordinariate has made a strong start

25 07 2011

Damian Thompson writes:

With 60 newly ordained clergy ready to start their Catholic ministry, morale is high in the Personal Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham. The launch of the Pope’s new ecclesial structure for ex-Anglicans has been less traumatic than anticipated – though there is an urgent need for money: visit the website of the Friends of the Ordinariate to find out how to support this prophetic venture.

I say “prophetic”, but we can’t take it for granted that the prophecy will be fulfilled. Every day brings fresh inquiries from Anglicans wanting to join the second wave of Ordinariate converts – but some of them are worried that the independent structure envisaged by Benedict XVI is coming together rather slowly.

I think the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is in charge of the setting up of Ordinariates worldwide, needs to ask some tough questions.

Why is it taking so long to provide the Ordinariate with a suitably imposing church to serve as its permanent headquarters?

Are Ordinariate priests being used to plug gaps in dioceses rather than being helped to establish permanent communities of their own?

Are some diocesan bishops treating Ordinariate priests as “their” priests, just because they ordained them? That is not how the Apostolic Constitution works.

Do some bishops see the Ordinariate as a half-way house to full diocesan integration for the new faithful? Again, that is not the purpose of this new structure, whose Anglican patrimony is supposed to be a lasting gift to the Church.

I’ll leave it there for now. But Cardinal Levada should be advised that, in this as in other areas, he must not assume that the Bishops of England and Wales will implement the Holy Father’s plans with any particular urgency or imagination.