On the twenty-fifth of February 1559 two significant events took place in London. In the
Palace of Westminster, the English Parliament completed the legislation for what
became known as the Elizabethan Settlement. Under this Act, the Book of Common
Prayer was re-introduced into use in England following its abandonment in the reign of Mary Tudor, and Elizabeth I was declared to be the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Further down the river Thames, in the old St Paul’s Cathedral, the bishops of the Canterbury Convocation passed Articles of Unity which affirmed their belief in the real sacramental presence of Jesus in the Eucharist; the propitiatory nature of the sacrifice of the mass for the living and the dead; the Petrine Supremacy and that only clergy are authorised to settle matters of faith in the Church. Needless to say, all but one of these bishops were deprived of their sees and imprisoned or executed. Yet the spirit of these Canons continued to be held by some Anglicans throughout the subsequent centuries during which numerous attempts were made to secure the re-unification of the Church of England, and in later years, the Canterbury Communion, with the Catholic Church.
On 1 January 2011 the re-unification of some Anglicans and the Holy See occurred in London followed by some in the USA in 2012, and on 15 June 2012 in Australia. The Apostolic Constitution that made this possible was Anglicanorum Coetibus promulgated by Benedict XVI on 4 December 2009. This Constitution provided for a quasi-diocese to be established within the Episcopal Conferences in England, the USA and Australia led by an Ordinary. The first wave of Anglican priests and seminarians who entered the Ordinariate could petition to remain married, but any new candidates who are not ordained Anglicans must submit to the celibacy rule. The Holy See has provided liturgies that are a nuance of the Western Latin Rite for use in the Ordinariate which express its patrimony and English Spiritual Traditions, both pre and post Reformation.
The Ordinariate is not the equivalent of the Eastern Rite Churches. Its liturgy is Western Rite, the basis of belief is the Catholic Catechism, and it is subject to Western Canon Law. The Ordinary works alongside and with the local diocesan bishop and is a full member of the Bishops’ Conference. Ordinariate priests are eligible for election to the Priestly and Pastoral Councils of the Diocese and if granted faculties, may be called on to assist in the diocese.
Ordinariate priests are Catholic priests, the liturgies provided in Divine Worship are authorised Catholic Liturgies and any Catholic may worship in an Ordinariate community and fulfil their mass obligations. The Ordinariate is unquestionably part of the main stream of Catholicism.
The initial expectation that significant numbers of Anglicans would enter the Ordinariates has not been met, but while some former Anglicans are joining as individuals, Catholics who resonate with the liturgy and charism of the Ordinariate attend worship periodically.
The vision of Benedict XVI to invite Anglicans into full Catholic communion and share some of the precious gifts of the English Tradition can be better understood if seen in terms of Christian Unity, the Charism of the English Tradition, Evangelisation and the prophetic voice of experience.The current thrust of ecumenical relations is described as Receptive Ecumenism, defined as an ecumenism of hospitality, welcome, listening and exchange of gifts. Receptive ecumenists believe that the organic union between denominations is an unrealistic expectation at this time, so search to find what degree of unity is possible within the diversity of beliefs. While ecumenical cooperation is a good thing, it cannot be described as unity until Eucharistic communion between Christians is possible through the sharing of the common faith.
The Ordinariate is in fact Realised Ecumenism and is not only a model of what corporate unity looks like, it demonstrates the way to it. The Ordinariate proves that the Catholic Church upholds the principle of unity with diversity, and Catholic Bishops, clergy and people should promote the Ordinariate as the living proof that true unity is possible and achievable.
CHARISM OF THE ORDINARIATE
The Ordinariate continues to receive the boundless gifts from the Catholic Church of East and West, but also brings the gifts of the English Tradition which has nourished the faith of Anglicans through centuries of ecclesial separation. Among these gifts are:
While the English Tradition has had a significant influence within the Catholic Church, this has been exercised since the Reformation without having a vehicle within the Church to foster its growth. The Ordinariate now fulfils this role.
Initially the Ordinariate’s mission was limited to those who have not been baptised in the Catholic Church, but in 2013, Pope Francis extended this to all who have not completed the rites of initiation in the Catholic Church. The Ordinariate is not a cultic, ethnic or boutique group within the Church; rather its mission is that of the Catholic Church.
The Synod of the Family has highlighted the important issues of the disconnection between faith and pastoral practice and how this impacts on the relationship between the local and universal within the Catholic Church. Ordinariate members have lived through the progressive disconnection between faith and practice in Churches that do not have a universal magisterium but exist as a federation of local parishes and dioceses. The Ordinariate members have an obligation to share their experience with the wider Church as a prophetic voice during the current debates.
ORDINARIATE and VOCATIONS
The Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross is small but a separate jurisdiction among the dioceses in Australia. It is non-geographical in the sense that its members are domiciled across the nation. For this reason we have to approach the challenge of fostering vocations in a way similar to that of the Religious Orders rather than a local diocese. While the Holy See has acknowledged much of the formation, studies and experience of those Ordinariate clergy who have served as Anglican priests, any non-ordained candidates for ordination to the Catholic priesthood must undertake some formation in seminary or approved alternative, as well as undertaking formation in the English Tradition.The Director of Vocations for the Ordinariate is Fr Stephen Hill who as well as gathering an Ordinariate community in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, ministers as assistant priest of Mayfield in that diocese. The Vocations website address is www.itsyourcall.net.au and our approach is to encourage people to explore the vocation to which God is calling them. We in the Ordinariate are anxious to do what we can to foster all forms of vocation in the Church. We are eager to learn from, and together with, those who share similar responsibilities so that God may be glorified and his Kingdom grown.
The Rev Monsignor Harry Entwistle
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