Last night the great and the good (and I) were in the throne room at Archbishop's House, Westminster for a special reception, sponsored by the Catholic Herald. The guest of honour was Cardinal Levada, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which oversees the Ordinariate. He, Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Mgr Keith Newton all made short speeches; I had hoped that one of them might use the occasion to release some exciting news (for instance about when an American Ordinariate might be set up), but I was disappointed; His Eminence deliberately side-stepped that one. Mgr Newton appealed eloquently for funds, and a quick glance around the room showed many who might be prepared to dip into their pockets to help.
And now, at the risk of this sounding like a Hello magazine article:
Several bishops were present besides the Archbishop; there were also the retired Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark (is London unique in having two metropolitan sees in one city; in fact the two cathedrals less than five miles apart?), Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood (another London see, sort of) Bishop Alan Hopes, auxiliary in Westminster, and another I didn't know; three abbots, of Douai, Buckfast and one other I didn't recognize.
The Ordinariate prelates were there, of course; Monsignori Broadhurst and Burnham, Frs Silk and our own Barnes, and several of the clergy including the now-famous Deacon James Bradley.
There were several historians, besides the Abbot of Douai, Dom Geoffrey Scott, there were the magisterial Jack Scarisbrick, the first 'revisionist' historian who revealed the real character of Henry VIII for the first time, and now the tireless campaigner for Life; Professor Eamon Duffy and John Martin Robinson.
There were many titled people there also, Lords and ladies; one I was pleased to see has no title, but he doesn't need one; Jack Eyston of Mapledurham, the descendent of St Thomas More, and his wife were there.
Someone pointed out to me Julian Fellowes, the man behind Downton Abbey, and Rocco Forte, the entrepreneur. No doubt there were many others that I should have recognized, but didn't.
Peter Sheppard, Luke Coppen and the staff of the Catholic Herald sponsored this event, and dispensed wonderful hospitality.
The point, of course, is a serious one. The Ordinariate cannot live on fresh air, and though Ordinariate parishes are likely to cost less than Anglican ones to run (without the crippling levies to be paid to Church House, for instance), as Mgr Newton pointed out, there are salaries and pensions to be found, and the expense of training new recruits. Those already ordained will continue to be trained by Fr Stephen Wang and his team for a further two years, he added, and then there are seminarians. One is already at St John's Seminary at Wonersh, where we pray he will be happy. All these things are expensive, and so if anybody reading this blog happens to have some money lying around that they don't know what to do with… please click here.