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ORDINARIATE FESTIVAL: Address by the Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton
Saturday 20th September 2014

Address by the Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, to the Ordinariate Festival, Westminster Cathedral Hall, 20 September 2014.

Ordinariate Festival Westminster Saturday 20th September
Although we are drawing to the end of the day let me say how encouraging your presence is. I remember when the Ordinariate was first established we wondered if anyone would join us. In the same way I wondered whether many would make the journey to London today. I need not have worried. You know as much as I do how important such occasions as this are to give us a sense of identity and that we are part of something bigger than just our local group. Our pilgrimages to Walsingham have been well supported and now this festival. So thank you. Thanks also to all those who have helped to make this day possible, especially the organising Committee, Ron Crane, Jackie Ottaway, Fr Christopher Pearson, Fr Mark Elliot Smith, F Paul Burch and everybody else, servers, readers those who arranged the coffee and tea etc. who have contributed to this day. I hope you have enjoyed it and felt it was worthwhile - at least up to now. As I said earlier, I am also grateful to His Eminence Cardinal Nichols for being with us earlier this afternoon.

Earlier this year I was privileged to be present at the Consistory in Rome at which he was created a cardinal. Gill and I stayed at a hotel near the centre of Rome with other members of the Bishops' conference. At breakfast one morning there was a priest with a woman sitting on the next table talking in Spanish. He noticed my pectoral cross and asked me in broken English which diocese I came from. Oh dear I thought, how do I explain this. My Spanish is almost non-existent. How was I to explain who I was? It is often difficult enough in English, the word Ordinary itself is not easily understandable to the average person. I mentioned Anglicanorum Coetibus which was met with a blank stare but when I said the word Ordinariate his face lit up. He was from Columbia in South America but he knew all about us, asked whether Gill was my wife and shook her hand vigorously, obviously pleased to meet us.

In June this year we had a wonderful celebration with the Portuguese community as part of an initiative to restore the links between the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory Warwick Street, which was the Portuguese Embassy from 1724-47, and the Portuguese community in London. The Portuguese Ambassador graced us with his presence and he was joined by many other Portuguese nationals. A few weeks later I was invited to meet a young Portuguese priest, Fr Joao Vergamota, from Lisbon who wanted to talk to me about the Ordinariate. Apparently the Portuguese Ambassador's sister had studied Theology with him and knew he was writing a Licence, a further degree in Canon Law, on the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. When she heard her brother had visited our Central Church it was suggested he should come to the UK to interview me and Fr Mark Elliot Smith. He was a delightful young man who I enjoyed meeting. He has recently completed his thesis and was privileged to meet with some other priests, Pope Emeritus Benedict in the Vatican. He reported and I quote from his email 'I offered to the Pope emeritus my Work about Anglicanorum Coetibus, and Benedict asked me what I think about the Ordinariates and why I consider them important: I answered that is a very good and real way to build Church unity! After I told him I was in London with Mgr Newton and Benedict expressed a big «OHHH!» with evident pleasure and friendship!

Then in June this year I sat next to Bishop Athanasius Sneider, the auxiliary bishop of a diocese in Kazakhstan who has written a number of books on the theology of the Eucharist. Even though there are, as far as I know no Anglican congregations in Kazakhstan, he showed evident interest in the establishment of the Ordinariate and saw it as a very significant development in the life of the Catholic Church. He was particularly interested in the Divine Worship Order for Mass and expressed the hope that some of the optional material in it might in time be available for use in the Novus Ordo.

Recently there was letter in the Catholic Herald following my homily at Portsmouth Cathedral in which I mentioned the Hobbit as my favourite book. The headline in the Catholic Herald was: "Anglicans Joining Ordinariate Are Like Hobbits In Search of Treasure"  I did not actually say that but as Catherine Utley remarked 'Why let the truth get in the way of a good headline'. The letter said: 

SIR – Your report, "Journey of ex-Anglicans compared to hobbit quest" (August 1), refers erroneously to Bilbo Baggins and "his band of hobbits". In Tolkein's story, Bilbo's companions are not hobbits but dwarves. The dwarves have lost their ancestral treasure and are unable to reclaim it without the hobbit's help. Bilbo becomes an integral part of their group while retaining his distinctive sensibility and character, and thus he is able to help the dwarves unlock and reappropriate their own ancient patrimony. As Bilbo is to the dwarves, one might suggest, so the Ordinariate could be to Roman Catholics in the twenty-first century; and Gandalf, the wise wizard whose idea it was to recruit Bilbo to the company, might be compared to Pope Benedict XVI.

Yours faithfully
Evie, Orkney

I mention these four little stories, and there could be many more, to illustrate the interest in this new development in the Catholic Church and sometimes it feels as if there is more interest outside the Catholic Church in England and Wales than within it. But it does raise the question about why there is such interest? Why have some people seen the Apostolic Constitution as important and significant not simply for us but for the Church as a whole. It is not simply a way of entering into the full communion of the Catholic Church. Many have done that over the years, Manning, Newman, Knox, Leonard, Widdicombe to name a few of the famous ones but this is something quite new and unique. What then is so special about it? Why is it important?

Fortunately, Cardinal Levada, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who saw through the development and eventual publication of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, gave a lecture in Canada in March 2010 shortly after its publication which describes its genesis of and thinking behind it. Firstly he saw it as a logical development of the dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church over the last 50 years and therefore a fruit of the Second Vatican Council as it would not have been possible except for the Vatican Councils approach to ecumenism - which was something of a breakthrough at the time - which said that other ecclesial bodies outside the Catholic Church, including the Anglican Communion, possess 'elements of sanctification and truth.. found outside the Catholic Church's visible confines'. He briefly traces the history of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission noting Cardinal Kasper's warning to the Church of England that ordaining women to the episcopate would have negative consequences for ecumenical relations. He concludes that the fundamental issue between Catholics and Anglicans is one of authority. 'Does the revelation of God in Jesus Christ and in scripture intend to let us know God's will in a way that requires our obedience and has God is Christ left his Church, founded on the apostles, an authority to help us understand that revelation.' Well I think we all know the importance of those questions for us. It was asking such questions that have led us into the Catholic Church brought to a head by the Church of England's decision to change the practice of the Universal Church with regards to Holy Orders.

In the second part of that lecture , which he entitles' the logic of Angliocanorum Coetibus' he uses an image of an orchestra to describe the contribution that people from other ecclesial communities, who enter the Catholic Church, can make. He says all the instruments can play the same notes but the sound is enriched when the notes are played on different instruments. Speaking of the Catholic Church he says:' She believes that she is the mystical body of Christ and she is convinced that the Church of Christ subsists in her because she recognizes that, while she is like the piano that has all the notes , that is all the elements of sanctification and truth, many of those notes are shared with other communities and those communities often have beautiful ways of sounding the notes that can lead to a heightened appreciation of truth and holiness, both within the Catholic Church and within her partners in the ecumenical endeavour'.

We can look to the Eastern Churches in communion with the Catholic Church and see how their way of life and worship has enriched the Catholic Church but he points out that this is the first time this has happened in Western Christianity. The establishment of the Ordinariate is the first time that the idea of Unity without absorption has been put into practice in the Western Church and we are part of that unique development. We should be proud of that but also committed to see that hope realised.

The Apostolic Constitution was not meant to be an easy way for us to become Catholics and then gently become unnoticed as we are absorbed into the wider Catholic Church. We have been invited to do something really special, something really prophetic pointing forward to what might be possible in the future. How are we to do this? How are we to fulfil our unique vocation and make our contribution to the Universal Church?

Earlier this year Mgr Steenson, the Ordinary in the States, Mgr Enwistle , Ordinary in Australia, and myself visited the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. During that meeting Archbishop, now Cardinal Muller, the present Prefect made some opening remarks which set out what we are called to do; we are to both preserve the integrity and distinctiveness of Ordinariate communities but at the same time integrate ourselves into the larger Catholic Community. Both these things are important. The liturgy and the way we celebrate it is one particular aspect of that distinctiveness. Mgr Burnham has spoken a little about the Rites which have been provided for us by the Holy See. I do ask those who have not yet done so to consider using them even if it is for an experimental period. If one thing is true about liturgy it is that it must be prayed for some time before one can make judgement about it. Many people who have experienced the Ordinariate liturgy have been moved by the beauty of its language and devotion.

Of course, there are other distinctive Anglican liturgical practices Advent and Christmas Carols services, the keeping of Remembrance Sunday and yes, even Harvest Thanksgiving, which we can celebrate. Some of us tried so hard in the past to be like Roman Catholics that we have sometimes ignored or forgotten the good things from our tradition that we are invited to bring with us. So our groups really need to explore how we develop that distinctiveness.

Having said that, we must not set ourselves apart as something separate from the rest of the Catholic Church. We are just as much part of the Catholic Church as any local diocese. We are to build communion not just amongst ourselves, and that is essential and hope today is one small way of fostering that communion, but also communion with all our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church. There are many things we can do together and join in with. We should support our Catholic Charites, like Missio, Aid to the Church in Need, and the Apostleship of the Sea. When the opportunity arises we should support and take part in events organised by our local diocesan parish to show in tangible ways that we are part of the whole.

But we must also be able to respond thoughtfully and helpfully to those who still ask the question 'why can't you become proper Catholics? In short we need to explain our selves, to explain in Cardinal Muller's words that Ordinariate is an eloquent expression of ecumenism rather than a way to keep ourselves separate. William Oddie, who spoke to some us yesterday evening, wrote in a recent article in the Catholic Herald in which he said 'the fact is that for the many people within the Church of England who long for reunion with the Catholic Church, but who wish that it could happen in a cultural Anglican context, a means already exists for them to have what they long for: I refer, of course, to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham . He went on to quote Monsignor Steven Lopes , an official at the CDF, speaking at our clergy Plenary meeting in June, who said '"the Ordinariate is ecumenism. It has at its heart the fundamental principle for the ecumenical movement: that the unity of faith which is at the heart of the communion of the Church can exist in diversity of expression."

Because of decisions by the Anglican Communion ecumenical relations between them and the Catholic Church have entered into a new phase where corporate unity no longer seems to be a possibility. We know that the hopes for Christian Unity for which we prayed for over many years have been fulfilled in a way we never expected but we need to help other Catholics and non-Catholics to understand this. Obviously communication about our existence and our mission needs to be at the top of our agenda.

Two weeks ago many of you were involved in the 'Called to be One' initiative'. I want publicly to thank Fr Christopher Lindlar, Fr David Lashbrooke and Catherine Utley, our Communications Officer, for all the hard work they put in over the last six to eight months to help us all engage with this. There were, of course, varying responses across the country but most people thought it was a worthwhile exercise not least for giving us the opportunity to explain who we are and why we exist to our fellow Catholics. We need to continue that work in the areas where we live so that others will see that we are just another part of the Catholic Church, an expression of its great diversity - thank you to all those who took part. I know what a difficult job it is to promote and explain the Ordinariate when we are so small compared with the rest of the Church.

I certainly do not want today's festival to be dominated by the issue of money but I think I should say something to you about our finances. We have been fortunate in having been given financial support from the Bishops' Conference not only in the first year but in its continuing support for formation of our clergy. We have been given a few large donations from the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and the American based Papal Foundation but for the most part we have to rely on supporting ourselves. We must be self-sufficient. Things have improved over the last few years as I hope everyone is beginning to understand the need to be generous in order to support the clergy, and the central organisation of the Ordinariate which is very small. But there is another matter which worries me a great deal and the priests themselves are unlikely make a big issue of it because it seems self-serving. It is the issue of pensions or at least a fund to support our priests in retirement. Those of us who served for 30 or 35 five years in the C of E do not have a problem as our pensions will be adequate but there are younger clergy who will have earned very little pension entitlement and of course, seminarians who are preparing for future ordination. We have decided that we cannot set up a pension scheme as it is very expensive but we have, like Catholic Dioceses set up a charity called the 'Clergy Relief Fund' to help priests in need particularly when retired. At present there is very little in it and we need to build it up. Each of groups needs to try and make a financial contribution each year as one group is already doing. Perhaps some of you might consider a legacy in your will. I know we have been left two houses in the future, so where there is death there is hope! I don't want to say any more about that but I hope you will take this to heart.

We have come a long way in three and a half years. We can thank God for what has been achieved but we have so much to do. We have arrived safely into the Barque of Peter but we cannot be satisfied with ourselves. There is the essential work of evangelisation; for some the Ordinariate will be a way of bringing some into the communion of the Catholic Church who would not make that journey without it. There will be the growing and development of the Ordinariate structures over the coming years not least the involvement of the laity. Each of our groups should have a Pastoral Council as should the Ordinariate as a whole. We tried to set this up in 2012 but with little success but there are plans to do something about this in the not too distant future. But what is true is that we must work together to achieve and develop that vison that Pope Benedict set before us in the Apostolic Constitution.

Let me draw to a conclusion with one of my favourite stories and I apologise if you have heard it before.

[Chicken and the Pigstory]

It is the commitment, prayer, energy and gifts of each of us working together, with a common vision, which will bring to reality the full potential of the Gift that the Holy See has given us.

(Picture by Mazur/

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