Tablet: Money & Buildings – the Ordinariate’s obstacles

3 10 2011

Posted by Christopher Lamb on the Tablet blog last week:

You don’t just have reception lines at weddings. At Archbishop’s House on Wednesday night for a fundraising evening for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, guests lined up to shake hands with Mgr Keith Newton, Cardinal William Levada and Archbishop Vincent Nichols.

The atmosphere of the occasion was celebratory. After all, in two years, the British ordinariate has been formally established – the first one anywhere in the world – with 52 priests and roughly 1,000 laity.

Ecclesiastical initiatives usually take a lot longer to get off the ground. But despite the early success, the ordinariate faces an uphill task in terms of finance and organisation. The evening, which took place in the Throne Room where a painting of that famous Anglican convert Cardinal Manning, holding his last audience, hangs, was arranged by the “Friends” of the ordinariate who are helping it to raise money.

The group needs £1 million a year to pay its bills and look after its clergy and their wives and families. So far, a quarter of a million has been pledged by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and another £100,000 from the St Barnabas Society. More controversially an Anglo-Catholic charity, the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, have donated £1 million which so infuriated one of its members that he made a formal complaint to the Charity Commission. The friends group has raised £50,000 and guests at the event were asked to pledge as much as they can.

It is not clear where other money is going to come from. The project is a hard sell to Catholic donors who are being asked to help a whole range of charities and projects struggling in these uncertain financial times.

Along with the problem of money, the ordinariate still has no principal church for its headquarters. Some have expressed concerns that the ordinariate clergy and laity will be “swallowed up” by dioceses. By all accounts, there is a long way to go.