Another post from one of our roving reporters, this time from a member of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, who attended an open meeting held last night at Newman House in Central London, where Monsignor Newton addressed a gathering on the subject of the origins of the Ordinariate, and its growth this year and in the future.
The meeting started on a positive note for me, being pleasantly surprised both by the venue and the numbers in attendance. Members of various London Ordinariate Groups were present: North, South, Central and Marylebone included. There were also some in attendance from the Westminster Archdiocese, representatives of the Friends of the Ordinariate, and a good number of practising Anglicans keen to find out more.
Proceedings began with Evensong, in the newly-approved (for the interim) Ordinariate form, led by Fr Peter Wilson. One cradle catholic remarked that she knew that she was experiencing Anglican patrimony from the enthusiastic and lusty singing.
Monsignor Newton then gave an introduction to the Ordinariate. Anglicanorum Coetibus had been an extraordinary gesture of true charity by the Holy Father, in the spirit of unity. It was, too, a fine example of "receptive ecumenism" where one asks not "What do the other traditions first need to learn from us?" but "What do we need to do to learn from them?"
The Catholic Church had raised no obstacles to unity since Vatican II, whereas the Church of England had erected many, not least the ordination of women, and it was clear now that there was no longer any place for Catholic Christians in the Church of England. The Catholic Church had listened to those Anglicans who had sought unity with their Catholic brethren, Anglicans who had always recognised the Pope as the head of the Western Church and prayed for him by name, and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham had been the first fruit of the Holy Father's response to their plea.
Members of the Ordinariate recognised how blessed they had been by the opportunity given to them and had joined in response to the call for unity, and most certainly not because they saw the Ordinariate as an escape from the Church of England.
A great deal had happened in a very short time and there was still much to be done and much to learn, but already a mission was recognisable. In a country that still viewed Catholicism with suspicion, if not downright hostility, yet where the established church had long ceased to hold the central role in the religious life of the land, members of the Ordinariate could do much to remove that suspicion and hostility, particularly as we brought with us, as part of our Anglican patrimony, the idea that a priest ministered to all in his parish and not just to those who came to his church.
Very encouraging to see that the Ordinariate continues to grow and develop, and is preparing itself for ongoing dialogue with potential new members.