This editorial appears in today’s Catholic Herald:
The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham setup by Pope Benedict has entered crucial and rather worrying phase in its development. Small communities of former Anglican priests and people are attending their own Masses, but in circumstances that are far from ideal. The challenge of finding them places of worship, and accommodation for priests and their families, is proving daunting. Given that this is a personal initiative of the Pope, it is rather shocking that the wider Church has not been able to expedite matters more quickly.
An ordinariate is about to be set up in the United States; there, the problem of church buildings is much as acute, for various historical reasons, and it may well be that the success of the American project encourages a second wave of converts to the Ordinariate in this country. But we feel as a newspaper that the time has come when – to put this as diplomatically as possible – our own ordinariate must stop waiting for the Bishops of England and Wales to make arrangements for them, and do the job themselves, with the help of the faithful. So far, no central London church has been offered to Mgr Keith Newton and his flock; until this happens, the entire ordinariate will lack proper physical embodiment. This is the moment for hard thinking – and for charitable initiatives that can offer what the hierarchy of England and Wales have so far failed to provide.
Perhaps this challenge is a blessing in disguise. The new community will be all the stronger if it carves out its own place in Catholic life, as the Apostolic Constitution envisages, rather than allowing its clergy and people to be absorbed into the existing dioceses, which is not at all what the Pope wishes. The Anglo-Catholic patrimony can take many forms; one of them is a spirit of adventure in the face of apparent episcopal indifference.