History Being Made

One of my jobs is that of teaching Church History in a seminary, and it is a awesome (in the correct sense of the word) thing to be actually present at an event which my successors will be teaching about.

I was present today in Westminster Cathedral when three (not the five that had been prophesied) former Anglican bishops were received into full Communion with the Catholic Church.

The whole thing was very low-key, really. I turned up early, and was saying a prayer at the shrine of Our Lady of Pew when I was joined by a man in a purple tie. He asked for assistance in a small matter, and I recognized John Broadhurst (hard to know how to title him right now). We chatted for a minute, and I thought that he seemed in very cheerful humour.

I crossed over to the Blessed Sacrament chapel and was met by two anxious-looking journalists who also wanted help. They were deceived by my clerical collar into thinking I was on the local team. 'We're from The Telegraph, and are here for the Ordination at 12.30'. Well, The Telegraph had obviously not sent the A team, I thought, if they hadn't even realized what they were coming to!

I got a nice seat at one side, and was pleased to espy Jeffery Steel of De Cura Animarum in the congregation.

There was a little rehearsal beforehand, and Mass duly began. There was absolutely no reference whatever to the elephant in the room (the reception of these notables) from the celebrant (and former Tibernaut) Bishop Alan Hopes or anyone else. It was simply a Mass for the feast of the Mother of God; a little note in the service sheet simply observed that there would be a reception in the middle. Finally, once he had preached, Bishop Hopes said a word about what was happening.

The reception itself was very low-key. The journalists turned out to be photographers, and put their heads over the screen behind the choir stalls, setting the volume of their shutter clicks to Maximum and Extremely Distracting. Only the three active flying bishops were received, all modestly and humbly in ties, together with some members of some of their families, plus the three sisters from Walsingham. I was surprised to see that even John Broadhurst, baptized a Catholic, was received along with the rest. They were then confirmed—some in accord with tradition took confirmation names; one of the former bishops took Benedict, another Joseph, others used their baptismal names—and they returned to their places to gentle applause. One of the sisters, descending the steps grinned at the congregation and gave two thumbs up.

They were then introduced to a great Catholic tradition; the collection. With masterly tact, a large African woman in a great pink headdress descended on the poor sisters (who if Dame Rumour speak true* had been turned out into the snow in their shifts) and menaced them with a collection bag. A fellow brigand went to mug the former bishops.

We all received communion, (five of our new brethren, including all three former bishops, on the tongue) and, lo, it was done. We are in communion.

The Ordinariate is launched very quietly and gently, slipping almost unnoticed into the water.

Dat Deus incrementum.

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* perhaps she doesn't. I've also heard that the sisters were financially helped by their former community.

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About Fr. Seán Finnegan

Born in 1961, Fr. Seán Finnegan studied at the University of St. Andrews and St. John’s Seminary, Wonersh, England. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton on September 24, 1989 where he has spent the majority of his priesthood, apart from a few years in the Oratories of Oxford and London. He is presently the Parish Priest of the Parish of Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Adur Valley, which is on the South Coast of England, not far from Brighton. Fr. Finnegan is the author of the exceptional blog Valle Adurni (the ancient Roman name for Shoreham, the main town of Fr. Finnegan’s parish, is supposed to have been Portus Adurni). He also teaches Early Church History at St. John’s Seminary.

34 thoughts on “History Being Made

    1. A most momentous occasion yet done in good taste without fanfare. Now our British cousins can move forward in the creation of their Ordinariate and hopefully the Ordinariate formation in the United States along with Canada may not be too many steps behind. What a way to start a new year!

  1. Interesting. Thank you for posting an eye witness account. I imagine that the quiet reception was a dignified way to proceed without developing a media circus and poking a stick in the eye of the ABC.

    So, if they have been received I assume that the ordinations to the diaconate and priesthood are further down the road (this month)?

    PS Nice news about the nuns finding a home in the Catholic Church.

        1. +Barnes has answered for himself and +Silk below. According to another poster on Fr Phillips earlier thread +Mercer has elected to be received with the TTAC clergy so the timescale for him is different – diaconate at Eastertide, priesthood at Pentecost (and episcopate on Trinity Sunday or the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul , God willing! ;)) going by press release of the Bishop's Conference of England & Wales.

          1. You wrote: … (and episcopate on Trinity Sunday or the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul , God willing! )…

            I would not expect that. Treating the TTAC bishops differently from the CofE/FIF bishops would create a very awkward situation within the ordinariate at best. Also, having a bishop within the ordinariate would become very awkward if a married presbyter is subsequently chosen as ordinary.

            But that said, there is a "back door" that could come into play. Apparently the Vatican has indicated that there could be "special cases" of TAC bishops ordained by bishops from the Polish National Catholic Church of America (PNCCA), which does have undisputed apostolic succession and thus undisputed orders. If Bishop Mercer is such a "special case" (and that is a very big IF…), the Vatican will recognize him as a bishop and would recognize the orders of all the presbyters and deacons whom he has ordained, so such individuals would receive faculties from the ordinariate without receiving ordination from Catholic bishops.

            Norm.

      1. Are these dates simply being bandied about on the internet or is there a legitimate source for them? It seems unusual that the Vatican would pick January 11th due to having nothing else on the calendar that date other than it being a Tuesday in Ordinary Time. Wait two more weeks and have it on the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. Want it a bit earlier, than why not January 20th, for which the prayer intention for the Octave of Christian Unity per Fr. Paul of Graymoor was:
        "For the return of the Anglicans to the authority of the Vicar of Christ. "?
        Perhaps the Vatican would be trying to be avoiding looking triumphalistic by setting up the ordinariate on just a very ordinary day?

        1. Daniel,

          You asked: Are these dates simply being bandied about on the internet or is there a legitimate source for them?

          I have some recollection of seeing the 11 January date from an official source somewhere. It might have been in the transcript of a press conference by Bishop Alan Hope and another Catholic bishop on or about 19 November.

          Of course, there's no guarantee that there won't be a change in the schedule due to some unforeseen circumstance.

          Norm.

          1. I had looked at the announcements from mid-November and this from Bishop Hopes remarks:
            "We think that somewhere through the month of January, the Ordinariate will be set up and established."
            I've been wondering if somewhere it was written as January '11 (for 2011) and someone interpreted that as the 11th of January. Once one person reports it incorrectly, and it is soon spread all over the internet. Conchúr has been giving some specific dates and I'm simply wondering whether they are spreading dates they saw "somewhere" or if there is anything official about them.

            1. Daniel,

              You wrote: I had looked at the announcements from mid-November and this from Bishop Hopes remarks:
              "We think that somewhere through the month of January, the Ordinariate will be set up and established."

              I have been doing so much digging into the plans and announcements that I'm really not sure what I saw where, but I'm pretty sure that there was an "11 January 2011" date from a source that was quoting somebody with inside knowledge of the plan.

              You wrote: I've been wondering if somewhere it was written as January '11 (for 2011) and someone interpreted that as the 11th of January. Once one person reports it incorrectly, and it is soon spread all over the internet. Conchúr has been giving some specific dates and I'm simply wondering whether they are spreading dates they saw "somewhere" or if there is anything official about them.

              Of course, that's certainly a possibility.

              I suspect that the observation by another poster that the ordinations probably will occur after the canonical erection of the ordinariate probably is accurate. Thus, the dates of 13 and 15 January indicated in other branches of this discussion for the respective ordination of those received on the first to the deaconate and the presbyterate seem consistent with the date of 11 January for the erection of the ordinariate. But in any case, we'll find out for sure when it actually happens.

              Norm.

  2. Fr. Sean,

    Thank you for your very timely post. I'm delighted to see the process moving forward!

    You wrote: … three (not the five that had been prophesied) former Anglican bishops were received into full Communion…

    This is not really a surprise. There have been indications in the official statements and press releases that the reception and ordination of the two retired bishops would lag behind that of the three active bishops.

    You wrote: … the celebrant (and former Tibernaut) Bishop Alan Hopes…

    Very interesting detail, indeed! I'm somewhat suprised that the Archbishop of Westminster did not receive the former bishops personally, especially with the reception taking place in his cathedral church.

    But then, it seems a pretty safe bet that Pope Benedict XVI will appoint Bishop Alan as the first Ordinary when he canonically erects the Ordinariate for England and Wales.

    You wrote: The reception itself was very low-key.

    As it should be, per the General Instructions to the Order of Reception of Baptized Christians into Full Communion of the Catholic Church. The General Instructions also state explicitly that there should be no triumphalism, and nothing that in any way denigrades the denomination(s) from which those being received have come.

    You wrote: … photographers… setting the volume of their shutter clicks to Maximum and Extremely Distracting.

    *LOL*

    It's very difficult to photograph a liturgical celebration without becoming a distraction. Nonetheless, shutter clicks are a lot less disruptive than flashbulbs!

    You wrote: The Ordinariate is launched…

    Actually, not quite yet unless an announcement of its canonical erection that I have not seen came out of the Vatican.

    The official press release from the Catholic Bishops' Conference for England and Wales stated that the ordinariate would be erected in early January, but did not give a date. I think that there was another, less formal, statement or transcript of a press conference in which a date of 11 January appeared.

    But clearly the process is moving forward — and that's especially exciting to those of us who, as students of liturgy, have longed to see the "Anglican Use" already established here in the United States gain the stability of having its own hierarchy and administration!

    Norm.

    1. Norm, you wrote:
      But then, it seems a pretty safe bet that Pope Benedict XVI will appoint Bishop Alan as the first Ordinary when he canonically erects the Ordinariate for England and Wales.

      Hmmmmm???
      The Complementary Norms to AnglicanorumCoetibus state in Article 4:
      §1. The Ordinary may be a bishop or a presbyter appointed by the Roman Pontiff ad nutum Sanctae Sedis, based on a terna presented by the Governing Council. Canons 383-388, 392-394, and 396-398 of the Code of Canon Law apply to him
      and in Article 12
      §4. The Governing Council has a deliberative vote:
      when choosing a terna of names to submit to the Holy See for the appointment of the Ordinary;

      So, whilst it may be that Bishop Hopes is named on 11th.January as the Acting Ordinary until such time as (Statutes and) a Governing Council is in place to select a terna, it might equally be the case, might it not, that for the purposes of erecting the Ordinariate, the three priests (once ordained on the 15th) be deemed to be, as the only priests of the Ordinariate, ipso facto the terna? Or, indeed, there be some other plan?

      We all enjoy a little speculation, however time-wasting it might be :-).
      However, despite the faith of many being strained by the silence and secrecy of the past fourteen months, as every new fact or event or detail concerning the unfolding Ordinariate has emerged into the light since its first announcement, faith in the Holy Father and his plans as so revealed have been vindicated.

      Shades of the Epiphany propers (how appropriate) with their myriad references to His light illuminating us all.

      Kind regards,
      John U.K.

      1. John U. K.,

        Hmmmmm???
        The Complementary Norms to
        AnglicanorumCoetibus state in Article 4

        Yes, I'm well aware what the Complementary Norms say, but one needs to view them in the context of established practice. The pope always appoints the first bishop when he erects a new diocese.

        So, whilst it may be that Bishop Hopes is named on 11th.January as the Acting Ordinary until such time as (Statutes and) a Governing Council is in place to select a terna, it might equally be the case, might it not, that for the purposes of erecting the Ordinariate, the three priests (once ordained on the 15th) be deemed to be, as the only priests of the Ordinariate, ipso facto the terna? Or, indeed, there be some other plan?

        I have not been party to the discussions between the three former Anglican bishops received earlier today, Bishop Alan Hopes, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but I would be very surprised if they did not reach an agreement as to the person of the first ordinary before the former Anglican bishops announced their resignations and intentions to enter the Catholic Church to form an ordinariate on 08 November 2010. And in any case, the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus explicitly requires the governing council of each ordinariate to consist of "at least six priests" so it will be impossible to constitute a governing council until there are six Catholic priests in the ordinariate. The apostolic constitution also requires the ordinary to appoint half of the members of the governing council, so it's impossible to form a governing council without an ordinary.

        I also suspect that there is some confusion as to the distinction between the respective roles of the apostolic constitution and the complementary norms, especially among those who are not yet members of the Catholic Church. An "apostolic constitution" is a document promulgated, or at least personally approved, by the pope that enacts actual changes in church (canon) law. By contrast, "complementary norms" constitute a plan for implementation of particular provisions canon law. In event of disparity or conflict, the apostolic constitution is what governs. Since there's no mention of a terna in the apostolic constitution, the pope canonically can appoint an ordinary without one. And in the case of the appointment of the first ordinary, there's a clear necessity to do so.

        So basically, I expect that use of a terna will be the normative practice for appointment of second and subsequent ordinaries of each ordinariate, but that the identity of the first ordinariate will be agreed in the discussions (negotiations?) that take place before canonical erection publicly announced as part of the announcement of the canonical erection of the ordinariate.

        Norm.

  3. You make it sound almost like a commando raid, Father:

    "The Ordinariate is launched very quietly and gently, slipping almost unnoticed into the water."

  4. May 2011 be the annus mirabilis not just in England but also in the US, Canada and Australia. An especially happy new year to all,

  5. Nice report, Fr Sean – what a fantastic way to start the New Year! I will be at the ordinations later in the month – I have the date in my diary, but of course do not know when it is yet -;) Exciting times ahead…….. See you next term at Wonersh

  6. "three (not the five that had been prophesied) former Anglican bishops were received"
    That's because the other two of us (David Silk, ex-Ballarat, and I) were asked to wait a little; but since our ordination is due before Ash Wednesday, it will not be a long wait, I fancy.

  7. As I see it, both the Roman and Anglican bodies are in need of reform. The Anglican church no longer views the Bible as authoritative. This is most evident in their return to a pagan sexual ethic. The Roman church perpetuates errors they've retained for centuries. The most striking example of this for me is their treatment of Mary and some of the other past saints. Churches acquire tradition through time; I understand that. But I think it's time for the Roman church to simplify itself.

  8. Happy Days- so good to read of the start of the process of the ordinariates. Will the Anglican nuns continue on as nuns in the Catholic church? Are other Anglican religious likely to come ? Will Anglican religious orders enter the Catholic Church.

    1. Athol bloomer,

      You asked: Will the Anglican nuns continue on as nuns in the Catholic church?

      I have not seen anything definitive either way, but it certainly looks probable.

      >> 1. The apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus states explicitly that the ordinary may canonically erect religious orders within the ordinariate.

      >> 2. The fact that Bishop Alan Hopes received them into full communion at the same time as the three active former Anglican bishops certainly indicates that they will have some sort of active ministry — which certainly could include some role in the instruction of the congregations that will follow. If they were not to have such a role, the bishop probably would have asked them to wait to enter the ordinariate with the ~50 presbyters and ~30 parishes that have indicated their intent to do so.

      Taken together, it appears very likely that they will constitute the first religious order of the Ordinariate for England and Wales. There's a bit of a paper shuffle that needs to happen to erect the order, but that paperwork may well be awaiting final signatures upon canonical erection of the ordinariate.

      You asked: Are other Anglican religious likely to come ?

      Yes. The relevant questions are (1) who and (2) when.

      Actually, the more relevant question is whether they will come as individuals or as intact communities.

      You asked: Will Anglican religious orders enter the Catholic Church.

      Actually, some already have. There's a community named the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement based in Graymoor, New York, here in the States, popularly known as the "Graymour Friars," that entered the Catholic Church in 1909. (Yes, over a century ago.) They have a mission in Brockton, Massachusetts, which is about ten or twelve miles by motorway from my home. But whether they will petition to become part of the Ordinariate for the United States when it comes into being or not remains to be seen.

      Norm.

      1. I would think that Father Paul and Mother Lurana would have been thrilled to become part of the Ordinariate if they were still alive. It would be nice if the present leaders take that into consideration and decide to bring the community into the Ordinariate.

        1. Daniel,

          You wrote: I would think that Father Paul and Mother Lurana would have been thrilled to become part of the Ordinariate if they were still alive. It would be nice if the present leaders take that into consideration and decide to bring the community into the Ordinariate.

          I agree that it would be nice if that community returns to its Anglican roots, but the likelihood that it will even ask to do so is less than clear. Realistically, they have been celebrating the Roman form of the liturgy for over a century and most, if not all, of the current members probably were baptized in the Catholic Church. I doubt that there's much "Anglican patrimony" left within that community.

          But one never knows for sure until there's an official announcement.

          Norm.

  9. Regarding the setting up of the ordinariate: it is entirely likely this will be done prior to or coincident with the ordination to the diaconate of Messrs. Broadhurts, Newton and Burnham. The reason I think this is that when a man is ordained deacon, he is incardinated into a diocese or institute. Since the clergy of the Ordinariates will be incardinated into the Ordinariates, it is at least possible that these will be set up so that there is something into which to incardinate them. Otherwise these men would need be incardinated into an existing Catholic diocese and then transferred, which seems an unlikely extra bit of red tape that all involved would rather avoid.

  10. The Ordinariate in England and Wales may well be set up with a transitional ordinary – note that by the terms of Anglicanorum coetibus all such ordinaries will be appointed 'ad nutum sanctae sedis', and so he can easily be replaced once the Ordinariate is sufficiently established to send a terna to the Holy Father.

    1. Flabellum,

      You wrote: The Ordinariate in England and Wales may well be set up with a transitional ordinary – note that by the terms of Anglicanorum coetibus all such ordinaries will be appointed 'ad nutum sanctae sedis', and so he can easily be replaced once the Ordinariate is sufficiently established to send a terna to the Holy Father. (emphasis in original)

      First, it sounds like you might be giving undue weight to the term ad nutum sanctae sedis (literally, "in the name of the Holy See"). This term is a technicality of canon law also applied to (1) pastors of some other "particular churches" that are not dioceses and (2) "apostolic administrators" appointed by the pope in unusual situations to govern a vacant diocese in place of a "diocesan administrator" chosen by the College of Consultors of the diocese, who has much more limited powers. The canonical effect of this term is to allow the ordinary to exercise same power of governance over the ordinariate that a bishop exercises over a diocese.

      Canonically, the pope can transfer any bishop at any time, and I see no reason why an "ordinary" would be any different. Nonetheless, the erection of a new diocese is inherently a transitional process and the erection of an ordinariate, with many of its members entering the Catholic Church from other denominations, will be even more so. Additionally, the pastoral leadership within new ordinariates — including many pastors and members of the governing councils — will be less than familiar with Catholic administrative processes and procedures, and thus will face a potentially steep learning curve associated with the transition. I suspect that the Vatican will want the ordinariates to get through this transitional phase and gain some stability, and the leadership within the ordinariates to gain some familiarity with Catholic administrative processes and procedures, before (1) introducing the additional transient of a change of ordinary into the mix or (2) putting those who are just entering the Catholic Church to form the ordinariates in charge.

      Of course, this consideration certainly will not prevent the pope from removing an ordinary at any time if the Vatican determines that a circumstance has developed in which removing an ordinary is the best way to proceed….

      Norm.

  11. Fr. Finnegan, when you wrote:

    The Ordinariate is launched very quietly and gently, slipping almost unnoticed into the water.

    Did you have Newman's closing of his Dream of Gerontius in mind?

    Angel
    Softly and gently, dearly-ransom'd soul,
    In my most loving arms I now enfold thee,
    And, o'er the penal waters, as they roll,
    I poise thee, and I lower thee, and hold thee.

    And carefully I dip thee in the lake,
    And thou, without a sob or a resistance,
    Dost through the flood thy rapid passage take,
    Sinking deep, deeper, into the dim distance. {370}

    Angels, to whom the willing task is given,
    Shall tend, and nurse, and lull thee, as thou
    liest;
    And masses on the earth, and prayers in heaven,
    Shall aid thee at the Throne of the Most
    Highest.

    Farewell, but not for ever! brother dear,
    Be brave and patient on thy bed of sorrow;
    Swiftly shall pass thy night of trial here,
    And I will come and wake thee on the morrow.

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