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The Ordinariate Clergy meet in Westminster Cathedral Hall
Sunday 15th February 2015

The Ordinariate: A Model of Realised Unity

Addressing a plenary meeting of Ordinariate clergy in Westminster Cathedral Hall on Thursday 12 February, Mgr Mark Langham, who was until recently the Secretary to the Anglican and Methodist Dialogues at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and who is currently the Catholic Chaplain to Cambridge University, said that the Ordinariate is "a model of realised unity." He also urged the personal ordinariates for former Anglicans to continue in their exemplary witness to "prophetic" and "truthful" ecumenism.

Describing the current rifts within Anglicanism, in which some Anglican bishops "refuse to accept the authority of [other] Anglican bishops... and declare themselves out of communion with them", Mgr Langham said that both "consistency" and "communion" are "essential qualities of ecumenism." They are concepts that "...the Ordinariate can help reinvigorate, reapply and retune," he added.

Thinking things through

Reflecting on the recent consecration of the first woman bishop in the Church of England, and the "more significant event" of the consecration of the Bishop of Burnley, Mgr Langham highlighted that "one of them, significantly, does not recognise... the ministry of the other." He then recounted his attendance at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, when the situation of Bishops refusing to celebrate the Eucharist with other Bishops was admitted to indicate a lack of 'thinking through' the consequences for communion. "Thinking through what communion means", Mgr Langham said, "is the crux of the situation." He added, "I would suggest that the Ordinariate is what happens when you think things through."

Describing the Ordinariate, Mgr Langham said that it is "...a truthful response to the claim to be Catholic, a realistic expression of the unity of the Church. It is contributing to a more honest ecumenical project, by demonstrating the need, to our partners, to draw a rigorous theological conclusion from the claims of communion."

By not shying away from the difficulties that the "journey" of ecumenism involves, and by bringing into the Church a distinctive identity and heritage, Mgr Langham said that the Ordinariate is an example of "realised ecumenism", a "prophetic sign" and a "commitment to faithfulness."

A model of diversity in unity

He also said that the Ordinariate "...has much to offer the wider Church. It holds out a successful, viable, model of diversity in unity – a visible sign that proclaims that shared communion does not mean uniformity of worship, traditions or government.... [It] needs to be broadcast wider in ecumenical circles, [as] an assurance to other ecumenical partners that the price of unity is not too high."

Later in his address, Mgr Langham also said that the Ordinariate " a catechising tool, and example of methodology" and that "it has resources ... which the wider Church needs." The Ordinariate, he added, "...can show how to go about exploring and representing one's own tradition. Here, I think, [the Ordinariate] can make a most significant contribution to modern ecumenical dialogue, both directly and indirectly. You not only model realised unity, but you model how to get there."

You can read the full text of Mgr Langham's talk here.

Mass in Westminster Cathedral

Also present at the plenary meeting were Mgr Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and the ordinaries of the US and Australian ordinariates, Mgr Jeffrey Steenson and Mgr Harry Entwistle. Both visiting ordinaries addressed the meeting during the afternoon, giving detailed and reflective accounts of their respective structures, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter (US and Canada) and the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross (Australia).

After the working sessions, the three ordinaries were joined by H.E. Archbishop Antonio Mennini, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, for the 5.30pm Solemn Mass at Westminster Cathedral. The principal celebrant at the Mass was Mgr Keith Newton and the preacher was Mgr Jeffrey Steenson.

After the events at Westminster Cathedral, Mgr Keith and Mrs Gill Newton held a private dinner at their home for Mgr Steenson and Mgr Entwistle, as well as Archbishop Augustine Di Noia and Mgr Steven Lopes of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

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