Ordination in Scotland

This news story is from the Scottish Catholic Observer. It's newsworthy because it reports the first priestly ordination for the Ordinariate in Scotland — which is even more remarkable because of the fact that Scotland does not yet have its own Ordinariate. It shows the seriousness of the Holy Father when he said that Anglicanorum coetibus should be applied as generously as possible. Fr. Black's ordination is a prime example of this generosity, showing that even in those places where there are not sufficient numbers to warrant a separate Ordinariate, it's perfectly possible for another Ordinariate to provide jurisdiction until sufficient growth allows for a separate Ordinariate.

Picture by Mark Campbell, from Scottish Catholic Observer

Ordination is an historic first
Scottish Episcopal minister becomes Catholic priest under Anglican ordinariate

In an historic first for Scotland, an Episcopal minister has been ordained to the Catholic priesthood under the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham at a Mass in Greenock.

Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisley, the bishop-delegate in Scotland for the ordinariate, presided at Sunday’s ordination of Fr Len Black, former minister of St Michael of All Angels Episcopal Church in Inverness.

“I am delighted to be ordaining Rev Len Black to the priesthood,” Bishop Tartaglia said before telling Scotland’s newest priest: “While you are being ordained under the ordinariate your priesthood is for the whole of the Catholic Church… and we celebrate that with you.”

The ordinariate—an initiative of Pope Benedict XVI—was set up in January by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for groups of Anglican faithful and their clergy who wish to enter into full Communion with the Catholic Church.


Fr Black’s ordination took place at St Mary’s Church in Greenock. He was presented for ordination by Ordinary Mgr Keith Newton, the former Anglican bishop who converted to Catholicism and now leads the ordinariate, in the presence of Bishop Tartaglia and Bishop Peter Moran of Aberdeen, the diocese in which Fr Black lives. Bishop Moran ordained Fr Black as a Catholic deacon on June 23 at Pluscarden Abbey prior to him entering the priesthood.

Fr Black’s wife Ruth was also present for the Sacrament on Sunday along with Mgr Denis Carlin, St Mary’s parish priest and director of Liturgical music for Paisley Diocese, and many priests from Paisley and beyond.


In his homily at the ordination Bishop Tartaglia explained the significance of the occasion, and of the ordinariate itself, which extends to Scotland.

“In my personal opinion, the ordinariate has all the hallmarks of a Pope Benedict initiative: generous, creative, imaginative and, above all, deeply Catholic,” Bishop Tartaglia said.

He added that the Holy Father had taken the lead in building bridges with Traditional Anglicans ‘making us all run to catch up.’

Prior to Fr Black’s ordination Bishop Tartaglia sent an ad clerum message to all Paisley priests providing an informative guide to the ordinariate and the way in which it extends at present to the one small Inverness-based group within the Scottish Episcopal Church.

“Although the group in Scotland is very small, when taken along with considerably more groups and clergy in England and Wales and with ordinariate arrangements coming into place soon in the US and possibly in Australia later, this begins to look like a new and visionary way of re-creating Christian unity after years of ecumenical stalemate, and it is marked by the striking originality, simplicity, and generosity of a Pope Benedict XVI initiative,” the bishop added.

Since January the ordinariate has welcomed more than 50 members of the Anglican clergy, and more than 900 lay Anglicans, in to the Catholic Church.

Married priests

At Sunday’s Mass, before the traditional homily for the ordination rite, the Paisley bishop took the opportunity to further explain the ordinariate to the congregation and the ‘novelty’ that has arisen from Fr Black’s ordination. Bishop Tartaglia said that the ordinariate was ‘extending the existing precedent’ in Scotland of welcoming suitable candidates from the Anglican clergy, married or single, to the Catholic priesthood.

Unlike unmarried men entering the priesthood, however, Bishop Tartaglia said Fr Black would not ‘be expected to accept the vow of celibacy.’

However, the bishop reassured parishioners that the Catholic Church did not allow the ‘converse’ arrangement. By way of example, Bishop Tartaglia said, in good humour, that St Mary’s parish priest ‘Mgr Carlin will not anytime soon be running off to the ordinariate to get married.’

Fr Black

As an Episcopal minister, Fr Black was the regional dean of Forward in Faith, the leading group of traditionalist Anglicans.

“The gift of ordination is a great privilege and honour and for me it is also the culmination of a long journey into full communion with the Catholic Church made possible by the generosity of Pope Benedict,” he said.

When the first plans for the ordinariate were announced in March 2010, then Canon Black told the SCO he ‘warmly welcomed’ Pope Benedict’s efforts ‘to respond to groups of Anglicans, including members of Forward in Faith, seeking to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony.’

Vote of thanks

At the end of the Mass of Ordination, Mgr Keith Newton offered a vote of thanks to all those who had taken part in the celebration, and he also thanked the Holy Father for his vision.

Mgr Newton expressed his gratitude to all the Catholic priests who had joined Sunday’s celebrations, recalling the sense of brotherhood he himself had experienced through the kiss of peace at his own ordination to the Catholic priesthood earlier in the year.

“The priests in the ordinariate want to work hand in hand with the clergy in the dioceses where they live,” Mgr Newton went on to say.

Bishop Tartaglia echoed Mgr Newton’s thanks, further extending it to the two seminarians who attended the ordination. He said he looked forward to ordaining a priest for Paisley Diocese in the future.

Fr Black then gave his first blessing as a Catholic priest before the congregation joined him for a reception in the parish hall.

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.

26 thoughts on “Ordination in Scotland”

  1. I wonder what does Fr. Crosbie think now… He was very much in favour of an ordinariate presence in Scotland, but it seems that he didn't even tried to lead his parish in the ordinariate, nor did he try to become a Catholic Priest in it… Perhaps because he doesn't like Fr. Black and his "polyester liturgies"? (Fr. Crosbie's words.)

  2. Thanks, Father.

    This is great news. (For Scotland and Canada)

    Thinking about the Canadian situation, if Canada does not have 'enough' people to form an Ordinariate on the first 'go around', perhaps we can be part of/attached to the US Ordinariate?


    1. No, to the Australian one. Why would those in Canada, a Commonwealth country, want to belong to an American ordinariate? Moreoever, the Australian one just might have a better Mass text than the B.D.W. You never know.

      Member, Monarchist League
      Descendant of United Empire Loyalists.

      1. Mr. Perkins, making the assumption that those who are Ordinariate-bound in Canada will necessarily be attached to another Ordinariate is premature, to say the least.

        Also, in your effort to stir up emotions, you pose a scenario you know to be incorrect; namely, that the U. S. Ordinariate will be using the Book of Divine Worship. You know perfectly well that there will be a liturgy which will be for all the Ordinariates. Your comment that Australia "might have a better Mass text" is a nonsensical statement.

        Please do not attempt to hijack the discussion by dragging in these imaginings which you seem to revel in sharing. We all know your liturgical views, and there's no point in attempting to rehash it all.

        1. Thank you, Fr. Phillips, for saying what I–and possibly every other reader of this blog–thought. Perhaps Mr. Perkins could take a moment to reread Fr. Seraiah's latest post.

        2. Dear Fr. Phillips:

          I sincerely hope that you are correct that there will be a better liturgical opton than the B.D.W. At the moment, however, no such option has been approved. No option has been approved for England either. As a result, the English are so far having to use either the Novus Ordo or the B.D.W. Those in England who do not want to say the N.O.M. are having to wait on the outside of the ordinariate.

          We are told that there will be two new Mass text options but neither of them have been approved by Rome. We are told that there will be a cmte. to create a Mass text but this cmte. has not been formed yet. In the mean time, ordinariates are being erected.

          I refer to the B.D.W because I have listened to Archbishop Collins's words on that presentation you have linked to his blog. One need not be a rocket scientist to 'discern' that he is preparing to recommend not an ordinariate for Canada but the extension of the pastoral provision to Canada–using, presumably, the B.D.W. That could not work because the B.D.W. combines an American prayerbook text–not a Canadian one–with the Novus Ordo. Such a hint from His Grace seems to me to be calcluated to discourage TACers in Canada even more. Canadians will not want an American text and TACers from all countries will not want prayers from the Novus Ordo. If this is to be the precious pearl offered, the TACers might as well convert individually and then opt to attend the Traditional Latin Mass.

          Canadian Anglicans have their own prayerbook tradition of 1962. To them, I am 'discerning', the 1928 and 1979 American books are completely foreign, not to mention the troubling U.S. spellign conventions that we really do not want up here.

          The correct order of operations is to get a truly traditional Mass text first and then erect the ordinariate structure. By traditional, I mean a text that does not force priests to use any prayers that were invented or devised by Bugnini's Consilium. At the very least, it means that incoming priests will have the option of using prayerbook and pre-conciliar Roman texts. So far, I don't see anything like that having an imprimatur on it. The ordinariates should be posponed until the Mass text option have been decided.

          So, yes, Fr. Phillips, if the Canadian ordinariate or a pastoral provision were created tomorrow, they'd have to use the B.D.W. or the Novus Ordo. Not so?


  3. Just imagine: one day, Canadian incomers could join an ordinariate erected in Australia, assuming that one is never founded for Canada. The possibililties are endless.


  4. Now that Fr. Black is a member of the Ordinariate, have any laity in Scotland been received into the Catholic Church and thus the Ordinariate?

    1. Yes. Laity have been received in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dunkeld and Inverness. The numbers are as yet small, but that is true of many groups in England too. The Scottish Episcopal Church is itself not that big – the established Church is the Church of Scotland which is Presbyterian..

  5. The Ordinariate is a particular church in all aspects and as such, in the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II as he preached in Manila, the Philippines "The Church is a living body. And as a living body, she comes to a stage of maturity where it becomes possible for her to give life to other Churches like herself"

    The Ordinariate will come to maturity in a sooner time than the Church of Manila did This I believe. She will give rise to other Churches like herself, fully Catholic and Anglican. As an Anglican Church in communion with Rome, she will be a "house on the hill" which calls Anglicans to finally come home. Is it then possible that the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham sends her missioner priests around the world? Or will the United States Ordinariate send her priests to the Philippines and complete the work of the first Episcopal Bishop, Charles Henry Brent and Father John A Staunton of the Sagada Mission?

    In the Philippines, the fields are ready for the sower!

    1. No, an ordinariate is not a particular church, as your own commentator here, Mr. Cavanaugh proved, citing that Itallian monsignor who is an expert on this subject. However, it does have the juridical independence of a particular church.

      Let's just pray that one is granted for Canada. If some prelates have their way, it will be the pastoral provision for Canada, not an ordinariate. As for Canadians joining the American one, I would wait to see if an Australian option were possible first. But who knows? Maybe the Aussies will also get only the pastoral provision.


  6. No vow of celibacy ! I think this is becoming a worrying trend in the Latin Rite of the church that many who have entered having to sacrifice their own desires for the will of Our Lord should have done so at all. This needs to come to a gradual stop. Catholic theology post Vatican II has done too much damage to the nature of the priesthood as it is.

      1. Given the way vocations are going in Northern Europe at ay rate, the Church may have to rethink the rule quite soon. At the moment there are not enough UK priests to provide a parish priest for every parish.

        Something like half of all UK priests are approaching retirement and there are simply not enough seminarians to provide replacements. Many parishes are served by priests on loan from dioceses in Africa, for example from Nigeria and Ghana, it is perhaps good experience for them but it is not a long term solution to the needs of either church.

        So at the moment the Ordinariate clergy are a welcome resource for the whole Church and it may well be that in the longer term the church may have to think about ordaining married deacons or something like that.

        1. To be honest I'm somewhat skeptical that ordaining the married will see a significant up turn in the number of seminarians. The problem is rooted in the wider societal/cultural environment.

          1. Oh, I agree that there are wider reasons for the downturn in vocations. But the present shortage is there and has to be remedied.

            I think that that among the permanent diaconate and elsewhere there are many men whose families are grown up and who as "mature seminarians" might make excellent pastors.

  7. Fr Black was followed by four persons into the Catholic Church and one of those was his wife.His former Anglican parish has recoverd and Sunday attendances are up.

  8. I was present at Fr Blacks ordination. It was a wonderful occasion. I think you report should not call Fr Black an Episcopal 'minister'. Anglicanorum Coetibus talks of anglican bishops and priests.

    Secondly the Catholic Church in Scotland is separate from England and Wales. That said the Scottish Episcopal Church is tiny so inevitably the uptake will be small. The UK Catholic military ordinariate has always covered both countries so Father Blacks position is not a novelty. Hopefully others will join him and there will soon be an independant scottish ordinariate

  9. The Scottish Episcopal Church, now overwhelmingly liberal , once had a strong Anglo-Catholic presence. It is sad that this has come to nothing. Similarly in Wales, the Diocese of LLandaff was once a bastion of Anglo-Catholicism and yet there are no persons interested in the ordinariate.

    Where have all the Anglo-Catholics gone?

    1. Mmmm I don't think that they have totally vanished, but more that the few remaining have adopted the "wait and see" attitude… I have a few concrete examples of this in Wales.
      + PAX et BONUM

    2. You do not allow for the possibility that there are Catholics in the diocese of Llandaff who are not joining the ordinariate. They do exist, you know.

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