Friday, 28 January 2011

NEW: Links to other Ordinariate Groups

We have added a new feature to our page here at the Reading Ordinariate Group page. New Ordinariate groups are being revealed on a daily basis and many of them now have their own web pages. You can follow the links to these other groups on the top bar on the right hand side of this page. You will see that they are almost exclusively in the south of England with one group in Wales. The list will be added to as new groups emerge.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Join the Reading Ordinariate

If you are an Anglican who wants to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church, or if you are a former anglican who is now a Roman Catholic, or if you are a member of the family of either of the former two groups and a Catholic, you are eligible to join the Ordinariate. The Reading Ordinariate Group aims to serve all of these groups so if you would like to join us email us at

The Ordinariate: The First Fruits of Christian Unity

2054, 43 years from now, will mark 1000 years since the great schism. This is by far the greatest wound in the body of the Christ which is the Church. We have been marking over the last few days the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity the focus of which is often talk of Ecumenism. Too often however there is a misunderstanding about what ecumenism is about. It is not talking about those things on which we agree, it is about working through those things which divide us as Christian people. We are called to restore that unity for which Christ prayed the night he was betrayed. That unity must be sought by all those who call themselves Christian, for we are a greater force against false religion and secularism when we are united that when we are apart.

How significant it would be if that 1000 years of seperation between east and west were never to happen. What a triumph it would be for the great churches of East and West to be reunited, and those ancient patriarchal sees once more to be as one. It seems clear the the present Pope, Benedict XVI, has made a bid for unity with those groups who have said they desire unity with the Holy See. What he has done is not only prophetic but Christ-like. In the gospels we see Christ walking along by the Sea of Galilee, saying to the likes of Simon and Andrew, James and John simply: 'follow me'. Through recent developments the Pope has said precisely that to groups such as Anglicans and the SSPX. The Ordinariate shows the great lengths to which the Papacy is going to see this vision of Christian unity through. It is the first fruits the Age of Unity for which we all yearn. Just as the fishermen followed Christ, so it is our prayer that Christian Groups will follow Christ's Vicar here on earth and through that action restore the unity lost long ago. Once unity has been achieved in small ways, the Church will be entrusted to achieve this in larger ways. The logical conclusion of the Ordinariate experiment could be full Christian Unity of East and West. We all have our part to play.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Congratulations to Edwin and Jane

Edwin and Jane recently pictured with their son

And then there were 10 (I think). Edwin and Jane Barnes have become the 9th and 10th people to join the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. They were received earlier today into the Roman Catholic Church and take their place alongside the three other former anglican bishops, Mrs Boadhurst, Mrs Newton, and the three Walsingham sisters. Edwin Barnes has for many years been a source of energy and inspiration in the anglo-catholic movement. Their loss is the Ordinariate's gain as well as a boon for the Roman Catholic Church at large. His years training young men for the priesthood at S. Stephen's House has shaped many churches and priestly careers. Many of those priests have already gone ahead before him into the full communion of the Roman Catholic Church. Similarly his years as the first anglican bishop of Richborough helped to steady many parishes in those dark years following 1993/94.

We continue to keep both Edwin and Jane in our prayers as they continue their journeys, and as Edwin prepared for his ordination to the diaconate and presbyterate before lent. You can read Edwin's account of today here.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

What is a 'Personal Ordinariate'?

The Pectoral Cross used by Fr Keith Newton

Understandably there is considerable confusion about what an 'ordinary' is. As far as most people are concerned he is a someone who can't be a a bishop because he's married. Well that is not really what an ordinary is. Some people know that there are other ordinariates called Military Ordinariates which serve the armed forces chaplains. Whta then is 'Personal' about a 'Personal Ordinariate'? We are grateful for the advice in the following description which has been given by someone who has recently comleted a thesis on this subject. Many of the terms as will be seen come from canon law and therefore have to be interpeted in this light.

The Ordinary is related to ordination, into which sacred order a man is ordained. In the Catholic Church ordination qualifies someone for the power of governance and brings that person into an order where he is able to be given an office in which to exercise the power of governance. Such a person is called an Ordinary. Ordination, to reiterate, does not confer the power of governance, it qualifies someone to be given it.

In the Church the most common form of Ordinary is a Diocesan Bishop, but there are others. There is of couse the Pope - the supreme ordinary in the Church. There are too Abbots and Religious Superiors and Prelates and others who may be delegated the power of governance. Diocesan Bishops are known as local ordinaries because they relate to a particular or local part of the Universal Church. Others who relate to groups of the faithful and not territiories are known as personal ordinaries. The power of a diocesan bishop is also known as proper power, because it is joined to the office by law and is not delegated.

A Personal Ordinary of an Ordinariate therefore is described as personal because his power of governance does not relate to a diocese or territory but members of the ordinariate. The personal ordinary is described as having vicarious, not proper, power. This means that the law requires that the personal ordinary must, on occasion, exercise his power with the permission of the Holy See and in some circumstances he must exercise his power jointly with a local ordinary. In canon law the Holy or Apostolic See refers both to the Roman Pontiff and the “institutes of the Roman Curia” (Canon 361) and a personal ordinariate is described as “subject” to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “and other Dicasteries of the Roman Curia in accordance with their competences”( Apostolic Constitution of Benedict XVI and Complementary Norms Anglicanorum Coetibus). Examples of where a personal ordinary must seek permission of the Holy See in the exercise of his power includes the erection of new institutes and societies, the erection of personal parishes, the confirmation of statutes for a governing council and to seek approval for the criteria to admit married men to the presbyterate.

Why Our Lady of Walsingham?

The establishment of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham naturally resonates with Catholic Anglicans and Roman Catholics alike. The modern shrines of OLW make this small place in Norfolk a great pulgrimage centre for thousands each year. We believe that the title for the ordinariate came not from this country however but from the Vatican itself. Rome understands the importance Our Lady historically holds for the English perhaps better than we do ourselves.

England is often called Our Lady's dowry. This is in recognition of the great and deep regard that Our Lady was held in mediaeval times and the devotion that was poured out towards her. Much of this was destroyed by Henry VIII during the English reformation, but the persistence of Our Lady has meant that she has never been fully forgotten. Now she has her own Ordinariate as a platform to reclaim England as her own. Tradition says that the title goes back to Edward the Confessor, which could well be true as it is from this period that Walsingham became an important shrine. The first evidence of England being thought of as Our Lady's dowry however is a picture of Richard II (reigned 1377-1399) in which the King and his consort are pictured kneeling before Our Lady and offering her England. In the King's hand is a parchment which reads: 'This is your dowry, O pious Virgin'.

The history of Walsingham is well documented and stretches back to 1061 when Richeldis, the lady of the Manor was taken to the house in Nazareth where the Annunciation took place. In mediaeval times it became one of the most visited places in all Europe with people travelling hundreds of miles accross sea and land to visit the Holy House. Under Henry VIII Walsingham came to an end with the dissolution of the monasteries.

The restoration of Walsingham has for many Anglicans been blurred: they forget that the restoration of the Catholic shrine happened first. In 1896 some thirty years before Hope Patten would build an Anglican Shrine, Charlotte Boyd restored the Slipper Chapel as a RC shrine. It was fully reestablished in 1897 as a Roman catholic shrine by Leo XIII. Perhaps we also forget that Leo had a great interest in England. He is perhaps remembered by Anglicans only for the papal bull Apostolicae Curae, but it should not be forgotten that it was he who, along with the English and Welsh bishops, revived the notion of Our Lady's dowry. In 1893 the English and Welsh bishops assembled on the feast of SS Peter and Paul at the London Oratory. There they consecrated England to Mary the Mother of God and Saint Peter. Fr Peter Bristow has an online article which is well worth reading about all this. You can read it here. The important point is that this came about after an audience with Pope Leo. It seems therefore that Leo had a great interest in reviving the tradition of England as Our Lady's Dowry, by reconsecrating the land to her patronage and re-establishing the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

In recent times the title of Our Lady of Ransom has been used by catholics in England to pray for restoration. Originally this title was used by Spain in the middle ages especially by the Mercedarians to pray for thse held hostage by Muslims in foreign lands. In recent times it has been used by English Catholics to pray for the release of Our Lady's dowry (England). Our Lady of Ransom shares 24th September as her feast day with Our Lady of Walsingham.

There is therefore a great deal of history behind the choice of Our Lady of Walsingham as the title for the Ordinariate in England and Wales.

Reproduced below is a hymn for the conversion of England with a fourth verse added. The original tune is by Tozer but it can be sung to Wolvercote:

O Lord! behold the suppliant band
   That kneels before thy throne
Come back, come back, unto the land
   That once was all thine own.
By all thy toil, by all thy pain,
   By every sigh and tear,
We pray Thee, let not Satan gain
   The souls that cost so dear.

Remember Lord, Thy mercies old,
   Thy grace so freely given,
When nations thronged into thy fold
   Intent on gaining heaven.
Remember how our Lady's Dower,
   Was England's glorious name,
Oh! bid her show her former power,
   Her ancient right reclaim.

Oh! for the sake of Saints who prayed
   At altars now laid low,
For deeds of shame, for faith betrayed,
   Thy vengeance, Lord, forego.
And for the sake of those who stood
   Amid the nation's fall,
Who kept their faith and shed their blood,
   Have mercy now on all.

Our Lady's prize stole long ago,
   at last has been restored:
May England and her children know
   that grace on them is poured.
Now Walsingham once more is bold,
   and Leo's labours yield
a harvest of a hundredfold,
   by Benedict now sealed.

Cardinal Levada's Message delivered at Westminster Cathedral

Here is the text of the message read out by Archbishop Vincent Nichols at the ordinations to the priesthood of Fr Keith Newton, Fr John Broadhurst, and Fr Andrew Burnham on 15th January 2011 which estabishes the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham:

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Ordination to the Priesthood of our three friends, Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton, is an occasion of great joy both for them and for the wider Church. I had very much wished to be present with you in Westminster Cathedral today in order to demonstrate my own personal support for them as they make this important step. Unfortunately, however, a long standing commitment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to meet with the Bishops and theologians of India in Bangalore has meant that I am unable to be in London today. I am very happy, therefore, to have the opportunity of sending this message and am grateful to Archbishop Nichols for agreeing to represent me and for his willingness to deliver my best wishes.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has today published a Decree erecting the first Personal Ordinariate for groups of Anglican faithful and their pastors wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. This new Ordinariate, established within the territory of England and Wales, will be known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and will be placed under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman. Its establishment, which marks a unique and historic moment in the life of the Catholic Community in this country, is the first fruit of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, issued by Pope Benedict XVI on 4 November 2009. It is my fervent hope that, by enabling what the Holy Father calls "a mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies", the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham will bring great blessings not only on those directly involved in it, but upon the whole Church.
Also today the Holy Father has nominated Reverend Keith Newton as the first Ordinary of this Personal Ordinanate. Together with Reverend Burnham and Reverend Broadhurst, Keith Newton will oversee the catechetical preparation of the first groups of Anglicans in England and Wales who will be received into the Catholic Church together with their pastors at Easter, and will accompany the clergy preparing for ordination to the Catholic priesthood around Pentecost. I urge you all to assist the new Ordinary in the unique mission which has been entrusted to him not only with your prayers but also with every practical support.
In conclusion, I offer my personal and heartfelt best wishes to these three Catholic priests. I pray that God will abundantly bless them, and also those other clergy and faithful who are preparing to join them in full communion with the Catholic Church. In the midst of the uncertainty that every period of transition inevitably brings I wish to assure you all of our admiration for you, and of our prayerful solidarity.
At an audience granted to me by Pope Benedict XVI on 14 January 2011, His Holiness asked me to convey to you that he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing upon the ordinandi Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton, together with their wives and family members and upon all other participants in this solemn rite.
Entrusting you confidently to the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham, and to the intercession of the great saints and martyrs of England and Wales, I am
Yours sincerely in Christ,
William Cardinal Levada
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith