Monday, July 25, 2011

Some good questions about the Ordinariate

From Damian Thompson (Holy Smoke).

I too wonder why Ordinariate priests are being appointed to diocesan parishes in the UK. Does the Ordinariate yet have its own curia? Does it have the services of experienced Canon Lawyers? Is the Ordinary being afforded every opportunity to actually be an Ordinary with full authority over his clergy and people?

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.


  1. Damian Thompson asks why why Ordinariate priests are being appointed to diocesan parishes in the UK. Two birds are killed with one stone. The diocesan priest shortage is eased. The Ordinariate priest gets a roof over his head.

  2. The most pressing need in the Ordinariate has been to find housing for its newly ordained priests. I understand that housing in some form or another has now been found for them all.

    In some cases they have been able to use an unocupied presbytery belonging to the local diocese, although it is unfortunate that there are few of these conveniently located. In at least one case, the local diocese has purchased a house and let it to the ordinariate.

    In other cases, housing has been provided by the ordinariate priest doing two jobs, one being to look after his usually small ordinariate congregation, the other being to look after a conventional parish.

    One must remember that many of the ordinariate groups are very small (perhaps 15 people). In these cases, it would not be possible for the group to support a priest by themselves. Another source of imcome is necessary. In some cases a prison chaplaincy or a hospital chaplaincy which has a salery attached to it has been found. In other cases, a more imaginative solution has been necessary.

    The Ordinariate has done remarkably well in sorting out these problems and, mostly, the dioceses have responded very generously.

  3. That's very good to hear. It is important that the Ordinariate priests and people be made welcome. In my fervent hope and desire that the Ordinariate succeed, I hope that it gets really well established, with its own Ordinariate Church where the Ordinary has his "seat", its own curia, etc. It would not be right for the Ordinariate priests to be simply plugging gaps in the various dioceses (although, of course, many dioceses do depend on priests from other dioceses, religious orders, even on priests of other rites, to keep their parishes manned.)


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