It's Actually Happening!

The blogging world is reporting the reception into full Catholic communion of five (or six) Anglican bishops and their wives, along with three nuns from Walsingham, to take place at Westminster Cathedral on the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God (January 1).

It's reported here, here, and here.

The English Ordinariate is beginning… can the others be far behind?

Author: Fr. Christopher Phillips

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips is the pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he has served for the past twenty-eight years. He is the founding pastor of the first Anglican Use parish, erected in 1983 under the terms of the Pastoral Provision. Fr. Phillips was ordained as an Anglican for the Diocese of Bristol, England, in 1975. After serving as Curate for three years at St. Stephen Southmead, he returned to the United States and served in two Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Rhode Island. In 1981 he left the Episcopal Church and moved with his family to Texas, where he was subsequently ordained as a Catholic priest in 1983. Fr. Phillips and his wife, JoAnn, have been married for forty years. They have five children, all grown and married, and three grandchildren.

23 thoughts on “It's Actually Happening!”

  1. I hope and pray that Bishop Robert Mercer is among them.

    He is a hero to the Traditional Anglican Communion, a lifelong celibate, a former Anglican Bishop as well as Bishop of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, and a holy man.

    Happy New Year, everyone.


    1. Deborah,

      I hope and pray that Bishop Robert Mercer is among them.

      I rather suspect that the rumors are about the five former bishops of the Church of England affiliated with Forward in Faith. I have not seen anything definite as to whether Bishop Mercer will enter the Catholic Church at the same time as the five or soon after the five.


    1. Noel,

      You said: To be precise, the individuals being received are former Anglican bishops and their wives. (emphasis in original)

      Yes, but apparently they will have been "former" for only 12 1/2 hours.


      1. Norm wrote:
        Yes, but apparently they will have been "former" for only 12 1/2 hours

        I keep seeing this reference to their [the five C.of E. bishops'] being "former" Anglican bishops.
        Yes, three of them ceased to be Bishops of respectively Ebbsfleet, Fulham and Richborough on the stroke of midnight.
        AFAIK, the other two had their PTOs [Permissions to Officiate in the C.of E.] revoked on announcing their resolve to join the Ordinariate.

        But, ceased to be Anglican bishops??? On their reception into Communion with the Holy See [should it be happening as I write, whch appears to be the consensus of the blogs over the past twelve hours] they will cease to be "Anglican" in the sense of communion with Canterbury.

        But cease to be bishops? As Anglican Catholics, we have always believed them to be bishops. We have always believed that nothing they can do can take away this character.

        Even Rome herself, having pronounced on the situation regarding Anglican Orders as she saw it in 1897, declines today to confirm or deny that these men are bishops in the eyes of God. Should they, as seems likely, be ordained to the priesthood in communion with the Holy See in due course (possibly the middle of the month??) then at that service their ministry as Anglicans will be affirmed and recognised. They are likely to be granted, under the terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus, the right to use pontificals.

        Kind regards,

        John U.K.

  2. Fr. Christopher Phillips,

    You wrote: The blogging world is reporting the reception into full Catholic communion of five (or six) Anglican bishops and their wives, along with three nuns from Walsingham, to take place at Westminster Cathedral on the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God (January 1).

    It's reported here, here, and here.

    The English Ordinariate is beginning… can the others be far behind?

    This is a very interesting rumor. IIRC, I ran across an item in the midst of the November announcements that indicated 11 January as the expected date for official erection of the Ordinariate for England and Wales, but the indication was that the five bishops would enter the Catholic Church and the Ordinariate upon its canonical erection. So has the Vatican moved up the date of the canonical erection?


    1. Perhaps you mistook something like 2011 January as being the 11th of January. The announcements seemed to say that they would resign as bishops on December 31st, then enter the Catholic Church in early January. The announcement from the Bishops' Conference went on to say:
      "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."

      I haven't seen anything indicating that they would enter at the same time that the Ordinariate is erected, only that that would happen shortly thereafter. So far it would seem everything is going as per the announcement with nothing being pushed up.

  3. By January 16 I reckon that the Ordinariat will be "up" and that at least three of these five bishops will have been ordained to the diaconate and (then) priesthood of the Catholic Church. Veritas temporis filia; and in this case we shall know soon enough.

    I know nothing about Bishop Mercer and how (or even whether) he fits in, and my efforts over the past 48 hours to obtain more information on this point have been unsuccessful.

  4. There is very little evidence that the numbers of Anglicans who will join the Ordinariates are substantial. I live in one of the Home Counties, near London, and since the announcement of the Holy Father in 2009 have searched diligently, but in vain, for a parish which I might join in order to participate in this glorious prospect. I live in an area where I could choose between three parishes, two High Church and one Evangelical. The two High Church parishes, extremely Catholic, are clearly not bound for Rome – they both have female curates.
    I have also contacted a Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) congregation in the hope it might accept me only to find, after speaking to several of its members, that there is considerable discord and there is only a minority which wishes to go forward into the Ordinariate.
    Insofar as "Forward in Faith" is concerned many of the parishes listed as members say they are NOT members, that they are no longer members, or that "yes" they are members but do not wish to take the Ordinariate route to full communion with Rome. So where are all these candidates for the Ordinariates?
    I gave up my search and am now half way through the RCIA course at my local Roman Catholic parish – at least there I found total transparency!

  5. Perhaps Bishop Mercer is under different obedience – with regard to the TAC, and/or with regards to the Community of the Resurrection (of which he still seems to be a member), and thus not at present able to do what the other bishops are doing.

    There is still a suggestion in some comments that the CofE bishops are pushing UK TAC-ers out of the way, or that the UK TAC-ers are being sidelined. Maybe the delay is, in fact, coming from TAC itself rather than being imposed by the brutal Novus Ordo jackboots of Alan Hopes and ex-Forward-in-Faithers.

    Perhaps (whisper it) TAC (at least in the UK) hasn't quite got its act together yet.

  6. This is the story as we (TTAC) know it here in England.

    Bishop Mercer is in London and will be attending the events as they unfold today. Up to and including yesterday he is there to support and witness this historic event. There has been no indication from him or others that he will be brought into the Catholic Church today (however we all know that miracles happen).
    We should not speculate, but have Faith. We need to pray and watch, with Our Lord as these historic happenings unfold. Patience, prayer and faith is all that is required at present.
    Let us Pray…Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be to God on high……Amen

    May you have a very Happy New Year ahead.

  7. There is a small element within and without TAC , the runaway bloggers, and the uninformed media who hope to create disorder, or at least a rumor, that there a “problems” between the TTACers and those leaving the Church of England. “Where is Bishop Mercer,” is the cry. Lo and behold, none of these highly educated writers make the effort to contact Bishop Mercer, Archbishop Hepworth, or anyone else in the know. It is not a secret! There is no feud.. THERE IS NO PROBLEM! Bishop Mercer has been interviewed by the proper authorities in the See of Westminster. He was made welcome. He was asked his preferences and he elected to enter the process in the company of the TTAC clergy. After all, his leadership has long been established. Settle down worry warts! I say again, “THERE IS NO PROBLEM!”

  8. From THE TABLET'S website at 16.12h

    Anglican ordinariate bishops and nuns ally with Rome
    1 January 2011

    The pioneers of the new ordinariate for former Anglicans were received into the Catholic Church in London today. Three former bishops, two of their wives and three former Anglican nuns formally joined the Church at a New Year's Day Mass at Westminster Cathedral. It is believed that more than 30 parish groups will follow them into the ordinariate which allows Anglicans to become Catholics while retaining elements of their Anglican patrimony.
    Westminster auxiliary Bishop Alan Hopes, himself a former Anglican, was chief celebrant at the Mass and heralded the receptions as a "great day". In his homily he told the converts that they had been on a long and challenging journey. "Today marks a profound and important step in your discipleship of the Lord," he said.
    Although 14 priests concelebrated at the Mass the receptions were low key. All three former bishops – John Broadhurst of Fulham, Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet and Keith Newton of Richborough – wore civilian clothes. It is understood that they will be ordained as Catholic priests later this month. The nuns were formerly members of the Anglican Convent of St Margaret at the Marian shrine of Walsingham. They wore new blue habits, discarding the grey they wore as Anglicans.

  9. And this from the US Jesuit magazine online AMERICA

    The discreet beginnings of the Ordinariate
    POSTED AT: SATURDAY, JANUARY 01, 2011 09:55:23 AM
    The 1230 Mass today at London's Westminster Cathedral looked like any other. But for the hint in the booklet for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, that after the homily would be a "Rite of reception and confirmation", there was nothing at all to indicate the significance of what was to happen. The celebrant, an auxiliary bishop of Westminster, Alan Hopes, said nothing at the start of Mass, and it wasn't until the end of a lengthy homily on Mary as Theotokos, or God-bearer, and the controversies of the fourth-century Council of Nicea which led to this Feast, that Bishop Hopes mentioned that they would be receiving some former members of the Church of England into full communion.

    They included, he said, three former bishops and their relatives, as well as three Anglican nuns.

    It would have been hard, if you had just dropped into the Cathedral for Mass, to understand the significance of what was happening.There was nobody around to explain that these are the founding members of the world's first Ordinariate, the scheme created by Pope Benedict to allow for the corporate reception of Anglicans (see my previous post).

    The Ordinariate will be created in the next week or so, with Rome's legislative act expected to be announced on 11 January. The jurisdiction will be headed by an Ordinary — inevitably one of the ex-bishops received into the Church today. The ordination to the diaconate and priesthood of the three ex-bishops will take place in a couple of weeks. They will be followed at Easter, according to Ruth Gledhill of The Times — who seemed to be the only one who knew that today's Mass was happening — by about 20 parish groups, perhaps 40-50 clergy, and a further three former bishops.

    Among the three ex-bishops received today was John Broadhurst, 68, until last night the Bishop of Fulham with pastoral care of 55 parishes across the country opposed to the ordination of women as bishops. He remains the leader of the Anglo-Catholic group of about 1,000 clergy known as Forward in Faith.

    The three nuns received today are the youngest members of the popular Anglo-Catholic shrine of Walsingham, and include its former superior. Their departure leaves only four elderly religious.

    I counted nine lay people also being received today; among them are two wives of the defecting ex-bishops.

    The celebrant, Bishop Hopes, himself a former Anglican, spoke of their "long and challenging journey" on the road to the Catholic Church, and this, their "decisive step on the road of your discipleship". He prayed for the "perfect unity" one day between Catholics and Anglicans. Then he spoke to those being received — but without a microphone, so the congregation could barely hear. When the microphone was restored, he told them they were now full members of the Catholic Church, and we clapped. Then it was Mass as normal.

    The beginning of a historic realignment of Western Christianity thus began with an event about as unpublic and understated as it was possible to have designed. Not even members of Forward in Faith knew about it.

    It is not hard to guess why. Too much fanfare and publicity now could make the Ordinariate look triumphalist, and cause ill-feeling among both Anglicans and Catholics. Much better to begin discreetly, and let it grow away from the spotlight. But perhaps just as important are the delicate sensibilities of those left behind, many of whom are wrestling with the decision of whether to follow.

    So there was no press conference, no photographers — and barely a journalist in sight. The Ordinariate, one might say, began today with a very English whimper.

  10. The three serving bishops (Broadhurst, Burnham and Newton) now and the three retired bishops (Barnes, Silk and Mercer) in a number of weeks. This ties in with the latest post on Bishop Edwin's blog. All is falling into place.

  11. Following Mary's comment I loooked at the Tablet report and found it a little odd. It mentioned three bishops and two of their wives…………. allowing for the vaguries of the english language this could be read that (former) Anglican Bishops often have three (or More!) wives, but that only two had chosen to be received alongside their husbands. Perhaps the sub-editor is on leave for New Year.

  12. Is it a good thing that these men are leaving the Anglican Church? Is the Anglican Church to be abandoned; left to the ministrations of extreme feminists, liberals, freemasons, new age Celtic monists and practising homosexuals? I see no grounds for celebration here.
    Michael Arch

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