Much of what is happening in the Church is confusing to ordinary Catholics. Here is a question a good friend of mine has sent me (I hope she does not mind my quoting her):
There are lots of amazing things happening in the Church at the moment, though I am not sure what it all means. What does Ordinariate and Diaconate mean? Are the bishops and the nuns now Catholic? I am confused because I wonder what happens to their congregations. Several weeks ago, on the national and the local news, there was a parish, in Folkestone featured, where the parish priest and his congregation were going to convert to Catholicism. Would they then all leave their Anglican church empty and attend the Catholic church in Folkestone? I didn't quite know what to make of it. Anyway I havn't heard any more about that, so it seems that the media has gone quiet about it all.
It all seems too good to be true, that the Anglicans of England are coming back, slowly but surely, to the Catholic Church. We could end up as a Catholic country in the future, wouldn't that be something. I hope that Henry VIII is able to see all this happening, wherever his soul reposes!
What is an Ordinariate? An Ordinariate is a juridical structure, a bit like a diocese, which has a priest (who could also be a bishop) as its head, with priests, deacons, and laity (including religious brothers and sisters) as members. It is established for a particular group of people. The so-called "Anglican Ordinariate" is for Anglican clergy and laity who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while at the same time retaining their Anglican traditions and communities.
What does Diaconate mean? The diaconate is the lowest of the three levels of Holy Orders. Deacons belong to this order. The next rank up is that of the presbyterate to which the presbyters or priests belong, and the highest rank is that of the episcopate to which the bishops belong.
Are those former bishops and nuns now Catholic? Yes, they are. They were received into the Catholic Church on Sunday last. The ordinariate to which they shall belong once the ordinariate is established will be as much part of the Catholic Church as the diocese of Southwark is.
The case of the parish in Folkestone. If the priest and people there do become Catholics by being received into the Church and becoming members of the new ordinariate, the use of the building would depend on arrangements made with the Church of England. The C of E could still let them use that church but it would still be an Anglican church building. They would obviously not be able reserve the Blessed Sacrament there. Assuming that they were not permitted to continue using the church, or if they decided it would be better not to use it, then they would most likely hold their celebrations of Mass (according to the rites approved for them by Rome) in a Catholic church. They would of course have every right to attend and participate in Mass with the other Catholics in any Catholic parish.
There could well be quite a bit of pain involved in leaving a building that is dear to them. Maybe not all of the community will become Catholics in which case those who do will also be leaving people they know and love. We must pray for healing of any wounds and that those who do not feel they can make the move to becoming Catholics may one day be able to do so. Father Sean Finnegan has written very sensitively on this subject.
Corporate reunion with the Catholic Church is the goal of many good anglicans (see e.g. The Order of Corporate Union). It is only through communion with the Bishop of Rome that full Christian Unity can be achieved. And the Bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict, the Pope of Christian Unity, has been inspired by the Holy Spirit to provide this means of facilitating that Communion.
Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing indeed if England once again became a Catholc country? This is what we must surely pray for. As for the location of Henry VIII's soul, even the archbishop of Canterbury recently expressed some doubt about this!
and our most gentle Queen and Mother,
look down in mercy upon England, thy dowry,
and upon us who greatly hope and trust in thee.
was given unto the world;
and He has given thee to us
that we might hope still more.
whom thou didst receive and accept
at the foot of the cross, O Sorrowful Mother.
Intercede for our separated brethren that, with us, in the one true fold,
they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.
that by faith, fruitful in good works
we may all deserve to see and praise God,
together with thee in our heavenly home.