Fr Sean Finnegan: How’s it going down?

25 08 2011

Fr Sean Finnegan writes at the Anglo-Catholic:

It’s been a while since I posted on the Anglo-Catholic; the reason was simple. In the early days, I wanted to do what I could to encourage those of you still on the Canterbury side of the Tiber and reassure those of you on the Roman one. Once things had reached a certain momentum, then my task seemed, well, redundant. Things were well under way.

But now that we are some months into the Ordinariate scheme in the United Kingdom, I wondered whether it might be useful to those of you in other lands if I reported on how the Ordinariate has gone down with the Catholic Church on the ground.

The answer is simple: there is almost nothing to report. And that is excellent news. When the first waves of Tibernauts arrived after the 1992 vote on women priests in Synod, there was a great deal of speculation and some ignorant hostility to the newcomers. Within a few years, all these attitudes were laid to rest, and those who are now priests (many with wives) have taken their place among the diocesan presbyteria and have simply become welcome members of the family. I think that this initial wave has smoothed the way for the Ordinariate; I have yet to encounter a hostile comment from anyone who matters.

There is a certain amount of curiosity, yes, but as far as my brethren are concerned, the new Ordinariate clergy are simply Catholic priests with their own structure. End of story. We are accustomed to religious orders running parishes; this would appear to be similar, and though among ourselves we have concerns about the thoroughness of the theological education of some, this is something that will, no doubt, be a decreasing problem as seminarians are put through a more rigorous preparation than they would have received in an Anglican theological college. And they will certainly not be fobbed off with a correspondence course.

If you would like evidence of this rapid integration, you might consider the fact that the Reverend Deacon James Bradley of the Ordinariate was asked to sing the Gospel in Madrid in the presence of His Holiness, during the youth gatherings there only a day or two ago. There is no fuss; he is simply a Catholic.

And that, in my experience, has been the tenor of things. Some laity have expressed anxieties, but a little information has been enough to reassure them.

Credit must be given to Mgr Newton, the Ordinary and his fellow leaders. By a careful avoidance of a sort of Anglican triumphalism, by keeping things low-key, the Anglican life-raft has tied up against the barque of Peter almost without a bump.

But what of these people’s Anglicanism? Is it still intact? This is an important question, and one that ought to be left to them. I am not qualified to put words into their mouths, but I would be interested to learn (perhaps from some contributor to this blog) what positive steps they are taking in order to secure their Anglican Patrimony now. Until the new liturgy is ready, they are, of course, using the Roman Rite (Ordinary Form, I suppose). Maybe things will become clearer once they have their own rite. I do hope that it is more than hymns and very long intercessions…