This mass has been a regular diary engagement since London forward in Faith organised the first festival of Christ the King at S.Paul's Cathedral in 1995. However, in 2010 a packed church gathered to say thank you to Bishop John and Judi. In his last public engagement the Bishop preached and presided at the Mass. He was presented with a (VERY large) bottle of malt whiskey, a cut glass decanter and Judi was given flowers and a bottle of port. Representatives from the dioceses of London, Southwark and Rochester were present as well as people from further away who travelled to express their heartfelt thanks and sorrow at his resignation. The church was full - a wonderful tribute.
The meeting at Holy Trinity, Winchmore Hill, was very good. It began with Mass and was followed by lunch and a series of short addresses and concluded with a question and answer session. The first address was a brief outline of the background to Anglicanorum Coetibus and an explanation of how groups who wished to respond positively to the Holy Father’s offer would become part of the life of the Catholic Church. The second speaker described how the process of catechesis worked in his parish and how some of the difficult issues of Church teaching were addressed and tackled head on.
There were, of course many questions, some of which it was not possible to answer with any certainty. Where, for instance, will groups worship? Although there is, as yet, no clear answer, it seems reasonable to suggest that, in London, groups will be established based in both north, central, east and west London.
At the time of the meeting the timetable for the setting up of the Ordinariate was not in the public domain. It is now clear that the name of the Ordinary will be announced in January and the serving Anglican bishops ordained to the priesthood without delay. Those in the first wave will be received during Holy Week and ordinations to the priesthood will follow at around Pentecost for those candidates whose applications for ordination have been accepted.
It was stressed that Anglicanorum Coetibus is intended for those who believe that God is calling them to embrace the fullness of Catholic unity positively. There is a need for humility: Anglican priests will have to be ordained to the Catholic priesthood and laity will need to be confirmed. However, it should be remembered that the Ordination rite for ex-Anglicans is generous in its affirmation of their previous ministry and that all those who enter the Ordinariate have done so as part of a journey of authentic discipleship begun in Baptism. Anglicanorum Coetibus recognises that there are many treasures in Anglicanism that will be an enrichment to the Catholic Church and its aim is for unity rather than absorption.
A follow-up meeting will take place, hopefully at Christ the King, Gordon Square, for those who wish to begin the process of catechesis. The date will be confirmed very shortly.
Statement on the Implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus
The Establishment of a Personal Ordinariate in England and Wales
Much has been achieved over many years as a result of the dialogue and the fruitful ecumenical relations which have developed between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. Obedient to the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ to His Heavenly Father, the unity of the Church remains a constant desire in the vision and life of Anglicans and Catholics. The prayer for Christian Unity is the prayer for the gift of full communion with each other. We must never tire of praying and working for this goal.
During his visit to the United Kingdom in September, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was therefore keen to stress that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus: "…should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all."i
It is now just over one year since the Apostolic Constitution was published. The Pope’s initiative provided for the establishment of personal Ordinariates as one of the ways in which members of the Anglican tradition may seek to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. As the Holy Father stated at that time, he was responding to petitions received "repeatedly and insistently"ii by him from groups of Anglicans wishing "to be received into full communion individually as well as corporately."iii Since then, it has become clear that a number of Anglican clergy and their faithful do indeed wish to bring their desire for full ecclesial communion with the Catholic Church to realisation within an Ordinariate structure.
In collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome, the Bishops of England and Wales have been preparing for the establishment of an Ordinariate early in January 2011. Although there may be practical difficulties in the months ahead, the Bishops are working to address these at a national and local level.
Five Anglican Bishops who currently intend to enter the Ordinariate have already announced their decision to resign from pastoral ministry in the Church of England with effect from 31 December 2010. They will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church early in January 2011. During the same month, it is expected that the Decree establishing the Ordinariate will be issued and the name of the Ordinary to be appointed announced. Soon afterwards, those non-retired former Anglican Bishops whose petitions to be ordained are accepted by the CDF, will be ordained to the Catholic Diaconate and Priesthood for service in the Ordinariate.
It is expected that the retired former Anglican Bishops whose petitions to be ordained are accepted by the CDF, will be ordained to the Catholic Diaconate and Priesthood prior to Lent. This will enable them, together with the Ordinary and the other former Anglican Bishops, to assist with the preparation and reception of former Anglican clergy and their faithful into full communion with the Catholic Church during Holy Week.
Before the beginning of Lent, those Anglican clergy with groups of faithful who have decided to enter the Ordinariate will then begin a period of intense formation for ordination as Catholic priests.
At the beginning of Lent, the groups of faithful together with their pastors will be enrolled as candidates for the Ordinariate. Then, at a date to be agreed between the Ordinary and the local diocesan Bishop, they will be received into the Catholic Church and confirmed. This will probably take place either during Holy Week, at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday or during the Easter Vigil. The period of formation for the faithful and their pastors will continue to Pentecost. Until then, these communities will be cared for sacramentally by local clergy as arranged by the diocesan Bishop and the Ordinary.
Around Pentecost, those former Anglican priests whose petitions for ordination have been accepted by the CDF will be ordained to the Catholic Priesthood. Ordination to the Diaconate will precede this at some point during Eastertide. Formation in Catholic theology and pastoral practice will continue for an appropriate amount of time after ordination.
In responding generously and offering a warm welcome to those seeking full ecclesial communion with the Catholic Church within the Ordinariate, the Bishops know that the clergy and faithful who are on that journey of faith will bring their own spiritual treasures which will further enrich the spiritual life of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. The Bishops will do all they can to ensure that there is effective and close collaboration with the Ordinariate both at diocesan and parish levels.
Finally, with the blessings and encouragement they have received from Pope Benedict’s recent Visit, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales are resolved to continue their dialogue with other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities on that journey towards the communion in faith and the fullness of unity for which Christ prayed.
i Oscott College, 19 September 2010 ii Apostolic Constitution 'Anglicanorum Coetibus', 4 November 2009 iii ibid
Yesterday’s announcement, the resignation of the five bishops seeking to enter the Ordinariate and therefore into full communion with the See of Peter is a seminal moment. Though the Ordinariate has yet to be erected, it seems that it will be become a reality in the new year and, for those of us prayerfully discerning the Holy Father’s offer, Bishop Andrew Burnham’s words about the Church of England are especially relevant:
‘Women bishops is a presenting issue, but it’s the question of whether the Anglican church is, as it says it is, is part of the universal church going back to the time of Jesus or whether it is going off in its own way and making its own rules. We think it is going off in its own way and making up its own rules and we therefore need to belong to the older body.’
This makes a powerful point: it is not just about women bishops. It is about the wholeness of the Church.
It is also about embracing the Ordinariate with a positive spirit. I was struck by Bishop Edwin Barnes’s comments about Bishop David Silk and Patrimony. You can read his piece on the Anglo-Catholic Blog:http://www.theanglocatholic.com/.
Many of us have over the years (myself included), been diehard Romanists, who would have died a thousand deaths rather than use Anglican books; and as for that BCP nonsense...or that English Missal...
And yet, there is clearly much still to learn about that quiet but solid brand of prayer book Catholicism which has shaped and sustained so many people. And it is about to find a new home where, please God, it can flourish.
I am sorry now that I have not thought about this more over the years. As a thoroughgoing anglo-Papalist I have always been rather sniffy about Anglican liturgy. Oh well, live and learn...
I am reproducing the full text of Bishop John's letter here because he has cared for us in London, Southwark and Rochester dioceses with care over the years since his consecration as Bishop of Fulham. Many thanks Bishop - be assured of our prayers for you and the other four courageous bishops who announced their resignations yesterday.
My resignation has been formally announced. I know that for many of you this will be not unexpected but for others it will be a shock. I have thoroughly enjoyed being your Bishop and have thought it a great privilege. I remain utterly committed to our Catholic and Anglican heritage. The Bishop of London intends to replace me and I hope that you will get a Bishop who is able to minister to you faithfully in the deteriorating situation in the Church of England. It has been my great joy to work in three different Dioceses and in each of them I have felt welcomed and affirmed. I will miss many colleagues and the priests and parishioners of the parishes it has been my privilege to serve for more than 14 years. My personal future is that I intend to enter the new Catholic Ordinariate being set up by the Pope. For 40 years I have been committed to the ARCIC process in which the Church of England seeks to unite with Rome. Recent decisions in our own church have made a positive outcome to these talks less and less likely. The Holy Father has made what seems to me a positive and generous offer to Orthodox Anglicans and I do not feel any choice but to accept. The consequence of this will be that our Catholic and Anglican heritage exists in two different places. It is important that we all remain friends and do not do anything to undermine or criticise each other. I am very grateful for the affection and love which Judi and I have both found in all the parishes. Many thanks for everything that you have done over the years and for all that we have achieved. My final act as a Bishop will be to celebrate the Mass at Gordon Square on the eve of Christ the King, Saturday 20th November at 12 noon. I hope to see many of you there. Every Blessing,
Yours as ever,
Thanks to Fr Aquilina who has done sterling work gathering together all the links for the media coverage of the resignations announced yesterday. It seems unnecessary to reproduce it here so I just provide the link!
Of all the things that have been and are currently being said about Anglicanorum Coetibus, one has struck me particularly. Bishop Peter Elliott, an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, used a vivid phrase, ‘the Vigil of the Ordinariate’. For many months now there has no doubt been much going on in the way of meetings and discussion and lots of behind the scenes activity. Quite clearly, however, there has of late been a change of late: nearer and nearer draws the time when the Ordinariate will be set up; and those who want respond positively to the Holy Father’s generosity will be able to do so.
In the meantime, however, we are still in the period of waiting: the Advent of the Ordinariate. The words of the second reading for Advent One seem to take on a special resonance:
‘You know “the time” has come: you must wake up now: our salvation is even nearer that it was when we were converted. The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon.’ (Romans 13: 11-12)'