Anglicans in Egypt

The Anglo Catholic Egyptian Captivity
by Fr Dwight Longenecker

I have just spent a most exciting, fascinating, nostalgic and emotional day. I was present at the reception into full communion with the Catholic Church, of the priests and people of Mount Calvary Church in Baltimore.

Mount Calvary has a venerable history within the Anglo Catholic movement. Founded in the mid-1800s as the first of the churches influenced by the Oxford Movement, their first pastor, Fr Curtis, travelled to England and was received into the Catholic Church by Newman himself and the returned to the USA to eventually become a Catholic bishop.

This weekend the congregation of Mount Calvary took the step into the Catholic Church through the new Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter erected by Pope Benedict XVI at the beginning of this month.

For me it was a most moving experience. I was an Anglican for fifteen years, and for ten of those years was a priest in the Church of England. When the Anglican liturgy is celebrated well there is nothing quite like it. From a purely aesthetic point of view, it is, without a doubt, the most sublime and transcendent celebration of the divine liturgy in the English language. When the celebration is also fully Catholic the experience is, for an old Anglophile like me, most moving.

One of the aspects which was so moving about the Mass this morning was the knowledge of just how much suffering was behind this final reconciliation. For the last thirty of forty years the Anglican Communion has been in turmoil. First over the radical innovation of women’s ordination, now over the revolution in the understanding of marriage. Traditionalists have been castigated, ignored, marginalized and vilified. They have seen their numbers decimated as thousands of priests and laypeople have left for Catholicism, the continuing Anglican churches or the golf course.

Anglo Catholics have been like the Hebrews in their Egyptian captivity. Bound to a system that was intrinsically rooted in the ways of the world, the mainstream Anglican leadership have behaved like petty Pharaohs. When Anglo Catholic congregations wanted to pull out and take the property which for years they have maintained and improved and paid for, the Episcopal authorities have dragged them through the courts, pushed them out, and even would rather have their abandoned buildings used as mosques than to allow any Anglican group to use them for worship.

When the Anglo Catholics in the Church of England suggested that they might retain some of their churches, or just perhaps share the churches the Archbishop of Canterbury gave a woolly smile which was more like a grimace and said, “The sharing of churches is still presenting a challenge to us.” Which was to say, “Not a snowball’s chance in hell that you blokes are going to set a foot in any of our churches.” Never mind that they were Catholic churches to start with, and never mind that the Church of England has for more churches than they can possibly ever know what to do with.

Were the Anglo Catholics in an Egyptian captivity? Well, no one made them make bricks, and it’s true nobody made the dissident traditionalists stay, but neither did they make them feel welcome. Now, at last, the Anglo Catholics have a way into the promised land. Like a latter day Moses, Pope Benedict XVI has given them a way out. They can retain their beautiful Anglican liturgy and heritage while being in full communion with the Catholic Church. In his gentle way Pope Benedict is saying to the Anglican leadership, “Let my people go!”

All that remains is for the Anglicans who are captive in Egypt to find the courage and faith to follow Moses. To leave Egypt means to leave the secure job, the secure home, the friends and family. We must remember just how hard it is to step out of the comfort zone and take the step of faith. We must remember how the Israelite children, once they were in the wilderness, longed to return to the comfort of Egypt. Suddenly they preferred the slavery they knew to the freedom they did not know.

The Episcopalian and Church of England Pharaohs may need to let the Anglo Catholics go (indeed they will be happier without them) but the Anglo Catholics also need to pack their bags, grasp their walking sticks, put on their sandals and get ready to set out for the promised land. That they will face a time in the wilderness is part of the story, but if they can take this step, the new Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham will get off to a flying start. A new direction will be taken toward church unity–one which may reap benefits in the future which we cannot now imagine.

Author: Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is an American who has spent most of his life living and working in England. After graduating from the fundamentalist Bob Jones University with a degree in Speech and English, he went to study theology at Oxford University. He was eventually ordained as an Anglican priest and served as a curate, a school chaplain in Cambridge and a country parson on the Isle of Wight. Realizing that he and the Anglican Church were on divergent paths, in 1995 Fr. Dwight and his family were received into the Catholic Church. He spent the next ten years working as a freelance Catholic writer, contributing to over twenty-five magazines, papers and journals in Britain, Ireland and the USA. Fr. Dwight is the editor of a best-selling book of English conversion stories called The Path to Rome -- Modern Journeys to the Catholic Faith. He has written Listen My Son -- a daily Benedictine devotional book which applies the Rule of St Benedict to the task of modern parenting. St Benedict and St Thérèse is a study of the lives and thought of two of the most popular saints. In the field of Catholic apologetics, Fr. Dwight wrote Challenging Catholics with John Martin, the former editor of the Church of England Newspaper. More Christianity is a straightforward and popular explanation of the Catholic faith for Evangelical Christians. Friendly and non-confrontational, it invites the reader to move from 'Mere Christianity' to 'More Christianity'. Mary-A Catholic Evangelical Debate is a debate with an old Bob Jones friend David Gustafson who is now an Evangelical Episcopalian. Fr. Dwight’s Adventures in Orthodoxy is described as ‘a Chestertonian romp through the Apostles’ Creed.’ He wrote Christianity Pure&Simple which was published by the Catholic Truth Society in England and Sophia Institute Press in the USA. He has also published How to Be an Ordinary Hero and his book Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing was published by Our Sunday Visitor in May 2008. His latest books are, The Gargoyle Code -- a book in the tradition of Screwtape Letters -- and a book of poems called A Sudden Certainty. His book The Romance of Religion will be published in 2012 along with a new edition of Adventures in Orthodoxy. In 2006 Fr. Dwight accepted an invitation from the Bishop of Charleston to serve as Chaplain to St Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. This brought him and his family back, not only to his hometown, but also to the American Bible Belt, and hometown of Bob Jones University. In December 2006 he was ordained as a Catholic priest under the special pastoral provision for married former Anglican clergy. He is now parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Greenville. Fr. Dwight enjoys movies, blogging, books, and visiting Benedictine monasteries. He’s married to Alison. They have four children, named Benedict, Madeleine, Theodore and Elias.

64 thoughts on “Anglicans in Egypt”

  1. Nice write up. You hit the nails on their heads. How did you like the 'Anglican Use' liturgy? I know you were moved at its beauty but did you feel it was 'defective' as I have read some snarky commentators like to claim?

  2. Father Longenecker, I love your faithful prophetic voice stating that "the new Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham will get off to a flying start". God bless this time at hand. May we not increase in their time in the wilderness, but welcome them with open arms. Those that take this initial step will bless generations to come with their faithfulness.

  3. Sir, as a Latin rite ex-Anglican I am thrilled, thrilled to see so many willing to join me. Welcome each and every one of you!!

  4. Father,
    Thank you for your post and for being there on a very special day.

    It is worth noting that in the case of Mount Calvary, an agreement was reached with the Episcopal Diocese and this parish will retain its church, something no UK ordinariate group has been able to do.

    Given the very acrimonious and horrendously expensive litigation which has resulted from the secession efforts of other TEC consitutent parts, I wonder whether this sensible church transfer deal was achieved only because the local TEC bishop was more of a gent than some of his colleagues, or whether this is a signal that the Episcopal Church will take a softer approach to parishes which are applying to enter into communion with the Holy See than it has so far done with those who have sought to set up "continuing Anglican" churches in direct rivalry.

    However, I think your readers should be aware that the status of the CofE as "the Church by law established" makes it incredibly difficult for the CofE to alienate a church building. True it is that England is an increasingly pagan country, so much so that if one divides the weekly CofE attendance figures by the number of CofE churches, one comes to a figure of something under 25 per church. But part of that is the result of the rural depopulation which came with the industrial revolution. Most of the pre-reformation gems are in rural CofE parishes which are now depopulated such that one has a single clergyman with 4 or 6 benefices and churches.

    The contentious churches were largely those in the populated cities and suburbs – very many a product of the evangelisation set in motion by the Oxford Movement.
    The best which could have been hoped for in relation to these were church sharing agreements and these were felt to be too difficult where there was a congregation splitting into two.

    In fact there was church sharing – the sharing of the catholic churches built since Catholic Emancipation. One year on from the establishment of the OLW Ordinariate, many of its members (and clergy) write very positively about the welcome they have received in host parishes. Yes there have been difficulties – but on the whole not insuperable. Numbers of ordinariate clergy now combine a diocesan appointment with care of an ordinariate group and, in fact what is happening is that the CofE is losing some of its brightest and most energetic pastors and most committed laity who will contribute mightily to the re-evangelisation of England. In many ways, all Catholics in England can see in this a new stage in the process of bringing England, Our Lady's Dowry, back to the one true Church.

    So let's not underestimate the start the OLW ordinariate has already made. Those who are clinging to the wreckage of the Anglo-Catholic movement within the CofE can see the writing on the wall and where they have doubts, one can point to what is happening in the TEC. They need our prayers and our help to make the leap of faith – and yes, transitional material support. The OLW Ordinariate is very poor.

    BTW. I can well understand the nostalgia you felt participating in a service using the Book of Divine Worship. I forget which French Minister it was who remarked after attending a Coronation in Westminster Abbey that he "had no idea that protestant ceremonies could be so beautiful!". This is true (not just for Anglicans but for for anyone who loves the English language) and one hopes that the liturgical commission now working on definitive texts for ordinariate use world-wide will be able to improve on the BDW – which, after all, has some rather jarring transpositions from revisions of the BCP to a modern translation of the Roman Canon.

    The Holy Father very much sees the Anglican patrimony as a "treasure to be shared" and one may be permitted to hope that, for example, Evensong and Benediction in the Anglican Use will be permitted for more general use in all English speaking countries.

  5. Mourad,

    Mt. Calvary's exit from the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland was not a softening of the national church's position. Instead it was the reality of the fact that the diocese did not have the resources to litigate and Mt. Calvary did not either. So they were both forced to sit down and hash this out together. Understand that lawyers where still hired and they cost money. There was a lot of division between members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. Some members wanted to put the screws to Mt. Calvary and others wanted to settle amicably and with Christian charity. Their division slowed down the negotiations considerably. To the credit of the Episcopal bishop; I believe that he wanted to do the right thing but was stimied by some powerful lay people whose agenda was to fulfill their Presiding Bishop's mandate that no property would be sold to a leaving Anglican group. I believe that they saw Mt. Calvary's exit as a slap in the face to their version of Christianity.

    Please pray for the parish that God would heal us and grow us so that we can carry out His plan in the City of Baltimore for His glory.

    1. John –

      We should speak accurately regarding the Presiding Bishops policy. Being one involved first hand in one of these cases, her policy has never precluded property being sold to a leaving group.

      The key has always been that she did not want it sold to a group holding itself out as a "replacement" for TEC.

      TEC has been quite clear that a sale to a parish going to the Ordinariate is consistent with her opinion of a parish not being a "replacement for" TEC.


  6. The current Episcopal Bishop of Maryland is indeed a gentleman and it does not surprise me that he would be inclined to allow Mount Calvary join the Ordinariate. He is also ecumenically-minded and has many friends in Rome.

  7. When Polish and Ruthenian parishes left the Roman Catholic church in the last century, did the Roman Catholic authorities let them take their property with them? If not, then why attack the Episcopal Church for acting no differently in this century? No one leaves Rome with their property, why then should Rome expect the Episcopal Church to behave any differently from them?

      1. Then this should never have been said:

        "the mainstream Anglican leadership have behaved like petty Pharaohs. When Anglo Catholic congregations wanted to pull out and take the property which for years they have maintained and improved and paid for, the Episcopal authorities have dragged them through the courts, pushed them out, and even would rather have their abandoned buildings used as mosques than to allow any Anglican group to use them for worship."

    1. Because in this country, since the 19th Century, the title to all parochial church property in the Catholic Church is vested in the diocesan bishop, whether as a "corporation sole" or otherwise, and this is clearly stated on most, if not all title deeds, whereas in the Episcopal Church, by contrast, it was generally vested in the church trustees. The legal question has been whether the 1979 "Dennis Canon" can of itself alter this, without any change in the title deeds. This in itself is a sufficient answer to the question of why, when Polish or Ruthenian parishes attempted to leave the Catholic Church they couldn't take "their" property with them, simply because it was not "theirs" to start with.

      There have been recently some alternative arrangements in the Episcopal Church. I have been given to understand that when the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was erected in 1983 its Texan incorporation vested all property ultimately in the diocese, but not in the "national church;" and that is why the lawsuit between the seceded diocese and the "Potemkin diocese" subsequently erected by the Episcopal Church is of such importance to both sides.

      1. So, if I understand you correctly, it is all right for Roman Catholics to steal the property the people themselves "have maintained and improved and paid for" simply because of certain secular laws? But it is not all right for the Anglicans to behave in the same manner? Have not the Roman authorities also "dragged them [disenting congragations] through the courts, pushed them out," but in the case of the Roman Catholic church, it is all right, but wrong if done by Anglicans for acting in the same manner? For me this is not an issue of law, but of justice; and it appears, in this instance, that neither Rome nor the Anglicans are behaving any differently.

        1. Technically, in the Latin Church (I can't speak for the Eastern Churches, but I believe the same applies) parishes have only limited juridical status–the "local Church" is the diocese not the parish. In exceptional cases, a parish or parish-like entity might belong to a religious order, but the basic principle remains the same. Catholic parishioners contributing to the maintenance and improvement of their "parish property" are knowingly doing so on behalf of the diocese, and are under no illusion that they belong to some congregationalist denomination. The bishop can transfer property, merge or dissolve parishes freely so long as his decisions are for the good of the diocese and not arbitrary. It's not a matter of "justice" but of expectation.

          Who holds title to property in TEC is less clear. Is it the parish, the diocese, or TEC itself? If TEC lawyers are to be believed, it appears to be the diocese if the parish wishes to leave, the parish if the diocese wishes to leave, and TEC if both the parish and the diocese wish to leave.

          One can perhaps sympathize with TEC's concern to preserve "its" patrimony, while still questioning the bona fides of its slippery tactics in doing so.

        2. It is not by sane people held to be "stealing" when one is safeguarding or recovering one's own property. In the case at point, parochial property in the Catholic Church belongs to the Church as represented by the bishop, not to the congregation or the parishioners. So if some people, or all the people, in a parish or congregation wish to leave the Catholic Church, fine, but since the property doesn't belong to them, however much they may have contributed to maintaining or improving it, they have no claim on it, neither legal nor moral — any more, I suppose, than if some unfortunate deluded folk who have contributed to "pro-life" causes suddently turn "pro-choice" they can demand the refund of their contributions.

          The question in regard to the Episcopal Church is, given that it is historically clear that its propertry arrangements have been far more similar to those of most American Protestant denominations in embracing a kind of practical congregationalism, whether the mere assertion by its governing body that all parochial property is held "implicitly" in trust for "the national church" is sufficient to alter the legal facts. It seems to me a case of "if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride." But had the Episcopal Church, per impossibile, been clear from the get-go that all parochial property was vested in "the national church" (or even "the diocese"), then Episcopalians would have no more legal or moral basis than Catholics for expecting that if they were to leave their church, individually or as a group, they would any claim to any real estate, buildings or goods belonging to it.

        3. Dale – there is not a question about who owns Roman Catholic parish property.

          To be historically minded, when the C of E split from the Roman Catholic Church, they left and took their property with them.

          There is no requirement for any Ordinariate parish to own property, nor is there any requirement that Ordinariate parishes have property to turn over to the Ordinariate. This is an important distinction.


    2. There is a completely different ownership structure in place. Roman Catholic dioceses own all their properties in fee simple. Episcopal parishes own theirs — which is why the dubious Dennis Canon was rushed through General Convention, purporting that 1) there was such a thing as a national Episcopal church (rather than a voluntary association of dioceses) and 2) that body could assert a retrospective trust in the property of any affiliated parish. That this farrago has been sustained in many states is a blot on the legal system.

      1. In Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada Diocese owns the title to all church property. The courts have all agreed that this should be upheld. Just to reiterate what Dale has said, why are people here spilitting hairs about property and accusing the Episcopal Church treating anyone badly? No Roman Catholic Diocese or bishop would just "hand over" property to people who decided that they wanted it. It is strange that those who admire the authority (and authoritanism) of Rome seem to dislike the same thing in the Episcopal Church when it is used in ways that affect them as they do not wish.

        1. Did you read the previous posts? You seem to have missed the point that it is precisely the question of ownership that has been contested in TEC.

          Parishes and dioceses are resisting the claim that there is a unitary structure that can lay claim to property owned by local communities. It may be more rational to have the corporation sole model; that is not how the TEC evolved.

          The point is simply that TEC does not, by these lights, have the authority it claims and asserts. Catholic dioceses do.

          1. You seem to have missed my point. I understand that TEC has contested ownership. I am trying to say that those who call the TEC overbearing or unfair should consider that the RC Church would do the same thing without apology. So don't vilify TEC for this, since it's hypocritical (speck and plank). For that matter, if the principles for which you wish to leave TEC and for which you have crossed the Red Sea or the Jordan are so significant, why look back to the bricks of Egypt?

            1. There is no hypocrisy involved as the parallels you are attempting to draw do not exist. It strikes me as unlikely that TEC actions aimed at securing "its" property would be open to criticism if its titles to said property were as clear as those enjoyed by Catholic dioceses.

              Another difference is that the Catholic Church claims very little property at the supra-diocesan level in the way that TEC is now attempting to do. If a bishop were to try to leave the Church with diocesan property in tow, there are established rather than improvised canonical procedures for replacing the incumbent from within the wider body of the Church and so keep the property in Catholic hands, at least in the Latin rite.

              It appears that TEC is attempting to reproduce the form of property structure currently enjoyed in the USA by the Catholic Church. That in itself isn't the problem. The problem lies in the fact that TEC is attempting to claim retroactively title to property that has heretofore been understood by congregations to lie where the actual deeds say it does, and in accordance with which these congregations have undertaken financial commitments and obligations.

              The stated preference to keep reclaimed property out of the hands of dissidents, even at fair market value, to the preference of any other potential religious purchaser might also strike one as a tad petty.

        2. Adam,
          Thanks for understanding my point. It appears that Anglicans availing themselves of the very kind offer made by the Roman Catholic church cannot seem to leave without nasty parting shots. This is very sad. It seems that if both the Romans as well as the Anglicans behave in the same manner towards dissenters vis-a-vis property, But it is all right for Rome to do so, but wrong if the same actions are used by Anglicans. Makes no sense. It will be very interesting to see what might happen if an Anglican group turns all of its property over to the Romans, and then wishes to leave! Gee…I wonder if the Roman authorities would be as kind as some of the local Episcopal bishops have been? (I would like to mention that when my father's parish left the Episcopal Church, the local bishop allowed the parish to leave with its church plant; while the local Polish National Catholic parish still has nightmares over their treatment by the, Irish, Roman Catholic authorities).

          1. The Catholic Church does not sign "pre-nups" with incoming congregations. Baring the establishment of religious orders associated with the Anglican Use, it can probably be safely assumed that Anglican communities joining the Ordinariate with property will vest it with the Ordinariate, and not seek to keep parochial title.

            That said, there are precedents for Catholic bishops/ordinaries voluntarily surrendering property with or without compensation to departing communities, particularly when these properties have been used and paid for exclusively by these communities. I believe this was done for some Eastern Catholic monastic communities that left to join the Orthodox Church in California. This was, however, recognized by those departing as an act of generosity and charity on the part of their former superiors and not a right.

            As Prof. Tighe has attempted to make clear in two earlier comments, Catholic practice is governed, not by any desire to stick it to dissidents, but by a clear and consistent ecclesiology, unchanged in this matter (feudal and private churches excepted) since the Church was first allowed to own property under Roman law in the 4th century.

            Reflecting a more ambiguous ecclesiology, TEC's property arrangements appear to have varied locally between episcopal and congregational. This is what makes the sudden assertion of a unitary principle of property tenure by TEC appear abusive and arbitrary, even as it apperars to now wish to follow something like (but not quite) established Catholic practice.

            1. Michael said "It strikes me as unlikely that TEC actions aimed at securing "its" property would be open to criticism if its titles to said property were as clear as those enjoyed by Catholic dioceses." My point is that you can't seem to move forward without making issues about property titles. Can't you just move on? You may or may not be correct from a legal point of view, but you seem to be stuck on the idea that you should take property with you. My point is that you should leave legalism aside. The Roman Catholic Church would never surrender its property, especially if a group seceded and deanded to take it with them. If you belong to such a group leaving the Episcopal Church, you should beleive that Rome is right to do this. Why, then, are Episcopalians wrong? The moral issue is that people shouldn't take what doesn't belong to them. In the end, it is bricks and mortar with a dollar value. Once you have decided to move on, then be content with your decision.

            2. "The moral issue is that people shouldn't take what doesn't belong to them."

              But that's the question, isn't it? And if they can make a case that it does belong to them, and they're willing to fight for it, than bully for them, I say, especially when they are fighting against such an apostate and subchristian outfit as the Episcopal church has become.

            3. As I am not, and never have been, an Anglican, it's not a mater of my moving on. I frankly don't care who ends up owning the property as I am reasonably confident that the matter will ultimately be determined according to the civil law of the land.

              What I object to is what appears to be a facile conflation between what TEC is attempting to do in its disputes with schismatic communities holding title deeds with how the Catholic Church would act with respect to parishes that in civil law currently have no or limited juridical status.

              In the rather extraordinary and largely hypothetical circumstances in which a "Catholic" property would be held by a separately incorporated parish, I would like to think that the relevant Catholic diocese would not resort arbitrarily to retroactively approve and applied canons to dispossess said parish in the event of its officers and members departing for another communion. What TEC is attempting to do would be akin to a Catholic diocese throwing a lien on a private estate on the grounds that it contained a chapel previously used by the owner's extended family for Catholic worship.

              Perhaps all Episcopal parish property SHOULD have been vested in the relevant Episcopal dioceses (or even "TEC inc.") in the first place, and perhaps the courts will ultimately rule that it was so implicitly. But what the parishes in question often have before them are deeds that state rather plainly that they (the parishes) are the owners. Perhaps vestries would have made different financial decisions in the past had they been aware that others would be the beneficiaries of any obligations the parish undertook on its own behalf.

              The fact that TEC lawyers shift from claiming that the diocese is the real owner to TEC being the real proprietor on a case-by-case bases as it suits its perceived interests surely undercuts the assumption that there is a clear-cut presumption that the deeds mean something specific other than what they say.

    3. Dale –

      I don't think you understand the issues here. Every case is different. The party to whom the property belongs should keep it. In some cases that is TEC, in other cases it is the parishes, and in some cases the courts are in the process of deciding that.

      One thing is for sure, the Dennis Canon does not apply in South Carolina in terms of unilaterally setting up a trust. Thank you South Carolina Supreme Court!

  8. As a lawyer who has some involvement i this kind of thing, I did not expect the negotiations to have bee easy. Parishes often expect that they can do what they like with "their" property but it usually isn't so. Usually the land is held upon trust and it is dedicated for specific purposes.

    The trustees have a fiduciary duty to fulfill. I fully understand that lawyers were involved and that there was mediation with a Judge acting as mediator. I suspect that no little credit is due to the Judge. But whatever it costs – it will have cost a lot less than litigation would have. And it succeeded. That at least means that both sides were induced to act reasonably and therefore I do give credence to the idea that the Episcopal Bishop acted more reasonably than many might have.

  9. Has some type of decision been made that members of the Ordinariates will be referred to as "Ordinariate Catholics"? I noticed on Fr. Hurd's page that it said he'd be visiting "Saint Luke Ordinariate Catholic Community". Then I noticed a reference to "St. Timothy's Ordinariate Catholic Community" in Fort Worth. Doing a search on "Ordinariate Catholic" on facebook shows there is also the "St. John Vianney Ordinariate Catholic Community" and "St. Peter the Rock Ordinariate Catholic Community". Are all of the groups in England still just going by "Ordinariate Group" with their location?

    Doing an internet search on "Ordinariate Catholic" I find an article which indicates that "History is Made Again as US Ordinariate Receives First Parish" in referring to Mt. Calvary. According to the article, it belongs somewhat to the Ordinariate while "the parish remains under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Baltimore for the time being." Fr. Steenson "made it clear during the Mass that he was operating by direction of Cardinal-designate Edwin O'brien, Apostolic Administrator for the Archdiocese of Baltimore."

    So I take it that despite being the principal church, Our Lady of Walsingham is not the first parish of the Ordinariate? If it becomes an Ordinariate parish, will it need to change its name to "Our Lady of Walsingham Ordinariate Catholic Community"?

  10. You say: "They have seen their numbers decimated as thousands of priests and laypeople have left for Catholicism, the continuing Anglican churches or the golf course."
    Thousand of priests?

    1. The number probably isn't an exaggeration over the last 40 years. Excluding the Ordinariate by all accounts some 500-600 CofE clergy have crossed the Tiber since the WO vote in 1992.

      1. To be fair, how many Roman Catholic priests and laity have joined the Church of England in the same period? Probably more.

            1. It was an article in the Baltimore Sun in which the Episcopal bishop of Baltimore commented this past weekend: "Some of the more notable priests who became Episcopalian are Father Matthew Fox, the theologian and teacher of creation spirituality, and Father Alberto Cutié, a television personality and parish priest in Florida." He fails to mention why they are notable.

    2. The number of people leaving the Roman Catholic Church is quite high and church closings are commonplace. It is common to say that people leave the Episcopal Church because of "liberalism", but the Roman Church loses people for various reasons, including its conservatism. We cannot assume that conservatism is attractive while "liberalism" is repellent. But the reality is much more complicated. Interestingly, the majority of RC attenders in the U.S. are now Hispanic. Since most "mainline churches, including the RC Church, are declining (check the birthrate), it is too easy to say that there is just one reason or to criticise the Episcopal Church or blame the probalem on "liberlaism" when all are dealing with similar issues.

      1. Is it more accurate to say that many Episcopalians and Anglicans leave their church because the church has changed what it teaches, while Catholics leave their church because the church will not change what it teaches?

        It is also worth noting that many church closings are the result of demographic shifts. Church closings, typically in older urban neighborhoods, often make front page news. Church openings, typically in growing suburbs, seldom make the secular news at all. I live in a rapidly growing suburb. Church openings—at least four Catholic and one Episcopal—are the rule here as is the construction of a new, $60 million Catholic high school. (That did make the newspapers.)

  11. In relation to Church property, the potential complexities are many. The position is much more difficult in the USA, because (i) dioceses will be in different states and the law and practice of the different states differs. It's bad enough over here in the UK where at least the law is the same in England and Wales (although different in Scotland and to some extent in Northern Ireland). Here for example, it is not uncommon to find old deeds from 200 or more years ago which convey land on trust to use it for a specific purpose (for a church or school) but which also provides that if the use ceases, the land is to revert to the descendants of the grantor and other complications of that sort. Hence the modern practice in the Catholic Church to vest all property a diocesan trust. But the CofE is governed by its own law which is the law of the land and getting property out of the CofE is well nigh impossible unless the CofE wishes it.

    So be thankful that at least some communities have been able to do deals – it was never even thinkable here absent good-will.

    Incidentally, have you noticed that at Mount Calvary Fr Steenson was officially acting as the delegate of the diocesan. So although the new parish is the Church and ordinariate bound, the formalities of transfer into the Ordinaraiate are yet to happen.

    This suggests to me that the Ordinary is still working on the "particular norms" which have to be approved by the CDF. It also suggests that there will be few official public announcements until the Ordinary is formally installed and the norms approved.

    It seems, and rightly, that the first urgencies are (1) to get the prospective priests on their training course (with the first group starting this weekend), (2) to get those sufficiently catechised confirmed and safely into Holy Mother Church with the full benefit of the sacraments and (3) to get catechesis going for all those groups who have expressed a interest with a view to having as many as possible received by Holy Week so they may participate fully in the joy of Easter.

    I'm all for the care of souls first and letting the formal paperwork catch up!

    1. Fr Steenson acted as delegate because, until his formal installation as Ordinary, he does not yet have Ordinary authority of his own.

      1. Father Gerard:

        I entirely accept that if one works by analogy with the appointment of a bishop, the nominee does not carry out formal acts until he has taken possession of his see and his letter of appointment is formally notified to the Chapter etc.

        But while a bishop's jurisdiction is ordinary and immediate, that of an Ordinary is ordinary and vicarious.

        In the case of the OLW Ordinariate there was no installation ceremony that I recall and Mgr Newton still does not have a prinicipal church! His appointment was simply read out at the Mass at which he was ordained and he started to act at once.

        Of course, neither Ordinary is a bishop – so the analogy of "installation in the Cathedra" does not hold up. So perhaps the operative issue is the giving of public notice of the decree appointing the Ordinary.

        With the Ordinariate concept being so new there is quite a element of "making things up as one goes along".

        1. Regarding the establishment of the Ordinariate of the Chair… there is no instillation needed for Fr. Steensen- only public recognition of that which has been established on Jan. 1. With the Vatican letter identifying the Ordinary, the Name and the principal Church, I do not know why all things must wait for an arbitrary day in February when a few Cardinals can travel to Houston for a ceremony, when the business can be done today…. Am I off track? Bring them in now if they are Catholic and give those waiting an idea of how long they must wait… Or is there a perception that ceremonies are needed to get on with the business of the Ordinariate. I agree that care (and time) to train future priests and catechize those lay people intending to enter is important… but there are those who do not need this 'special formation'… Agreed?
          Thanks for any enlightenment that can be provided.

          1. Actually, the invitation specifically states that the event in Houston on February 12th is the Institution of the Ordinariate and the Installation of the Ordinary. Seems pretty clear that the Ordinariate has been announced but does not yet exist, and won't until Feb. 12.

            1. According to the decree itself… ( emphasis is in the document itself.

              In conformity with what is established in Art. I § 1 and § 2 of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, having received requests from a considerable number of Anglican faithful, and having consulted with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Congregation for
              the Doctrine of the Faith ERECTS the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter within the territory of the Episcopal Conference of the United States.
              This present tense indicates no need to initiate… I sincerely DO appreciate the honorable ceremony that the Cardinals and other interested in the Anglican patrimony (particularly current Catholics) wish to observe, but a social invitation does not trump a papal decree. Thank you Cardianl DiNardo and Cardinal Wuerl for this opportunity to celebration something that has already has been gifted by Rome.

      2. I must agree with Mourad; the Decree erecting the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter says that the Ordinary has full rights and responsibilities as soon as he is named by the Pope. The installation is a formality, which does not convey either sacerdotal potestas as does an episcopal consecration nor jurisdiction. It is similar to a pastor's being appointed to lead a parish, but having a formal installation some months later when the bishop's schedule allows.

        1. I am sure when all is established that these matters will be clear. When the next Ordinaries for OCSP and OLW is appointed there will not be the confusions we presently have.

    2. Mourad said: I’m all for the care of souls first and letting the formal paperwork catch up!

      Put me down for that.

  12. Apparently, it seems that it was decided that Priesthood in the ordinariate is open to former ministers in… how to say it…. any liturgical protestant Church, as Mr. Cavanaugh reports on his blog that Randy Sly, ex-Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (a body not Anglican in spite of its name), is begining the process for ordination in the ordinariate.

    + PAX et BONUM

  13. This same sunday Father Jon Chalmers, forme curate at Christ Church Episcopal, Greenville SC, was received and confirmed in the Catholic Church. He will be ordained, God willing, in the ordinariate, and hopes to found an ordinariate parish in Greenville as well as beein a curate at St Rafka maronite church (his wife is lebanese).

    + PAX et BONUM

    1. Almost right: I am a former associate at Christ Church, Greenville, I was received and confirmed in the Catholic Church on January 22, and my wife is a Maronite Catholic. However, I have no plans to be a curate at St. Rafka's Maronite if for no other reason than it is eastern and I am not and the proposed Ordinariate community in Greenville is being formed. I ask your prayers.


      1. Be sure of my prayers. Also, it would be a good idea to set up an internet page for the Greenville ordinariate parish, so as to inform those who wish you well.
        I wrote that you could be associate at St Rafka's because its weekly buleltin says that they hope that the Maronite Bishop will grant you faculties to say the Qurbana.

        + PAX et BONUM

  14. It may be worth pointing out that Bishop Alan Hopes, the Auxiliary of Westminister, ad the Episcopal Delegate of the UKCCB for Ordinariate matters (and himself a former Anglican) is reported in the Catholic Herald and on the Ordinariate Portal today as having written this in an article in the Newman Magazine:-

    "“The personal ordinariate is for former Anglicans – but Anglicans who converted some years ago can, if they so wish, say that they would like to become members of the ordinariate. There is that dual possibility.

    “The decision-making body is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They are the people who will be the final arbiters in any question that might arise. There are points in the constitution [Anglicanorum coetibus] that will have to be fleshed out.”

    Firstly, it is to be noted that both in the USA and the UK actual implementation of the Apostolic Constitution is in practice raising issues which were not considered when the overall complemetary norms were prepared and further provisions will be made in the light of experience.

    What the Bishop now says was always my reading of the Apostolic Constitution and the Complementary Norms but I am glad to see it confirmed. So far as Catholic clergy who are former Anglicans are concerned, the mechanism for joining an Ordinariate is excardination and incardination. Canon Law makes it clear that It is quite hard for a diocesan to refuse a proper request supported by the receiving jurisdiction. So far as catholic laity who are former Anglicans are concerned, it is even easier than that.

    I suspect that in the case of long established Anglican Use parishes a solution will be found for non-Anglicans who are parishioners in the parish.

    The relevance to presently incoming former Anglican clergy or laity may be that those who left the CofE or the Episcopal Church or other Anglican Communion bodies for "continuing" structures are not going to find that a bar. While I think that Rome is not minded to take on board "continuing Anglican" corporate structures above parish level, it does not seem that there is going to be a problem in most cases.

    What is becoming increasingly clear is that the Holy Father wants the Church to make our separated brethren welcome and that he wants to cut through the curial bureaucracy where need be. I am reminded of the witticism of Pope John XXIII when asked how many people worked in the Vatican. The response came quick as a Flash: "About half of them!".. Well, the CDF is a small but very powerful Congregation. The present Holy Father was formerly its Prefect and he well knew how effective it would be at cutting red tape.

    Looking ahead, I would be prepared to hazard a guess that where Methodists and Lutherans or others to want to explore coming into communion via the Ordinariate, a way would be found.

    1. Thank you Mourad for:
      What is becoming increasingly clear is that the Holy Father wants the Church to make our separated brethren welcome and that he wants to cut through the curial bureaucracy where need be.

      Let us work diligently to cut through curial bureaucracy….

  15. The Roman Catholic Church, especially in Dioceses where there has been deopulation or a difficult situation, is divesting itself of many of it churches, schools, and other properties. The crisis in Philadelphia comes to mind, but there are church closings almost everywhere. Why is it that none of these churches are being given to the ordinariate? Or, if they are not in suitable locations, why are the proceeds not being offered to build or buy Ordinariate churches? Doubtless the lawsuits against many RC clergy and dioceses are taking much of this money, but the Ordinariate seems to be expected to get along without any financial help. A good deal for Rome, but a burden for people Ordinariate-bound.

    1. Actually I think the more recent Anglican Use communities have been provided the use of such churches. As far as the Ordinariate goes, they'll need to acknowledge having some communities prior to having the need for any buildings. I would expect that the Ordinariate may not want to determine where to have a community based upon the location of some of the buildings that might get offered.

    2. Adam, you are really giving the impression of being rather free and generous with other people's property. Unlike what TEC now seems to be claiming for itself, the Catholic Church holds very little property qua "Catholic Church." Even if unused, a church building counts as an asset for a diocese to be used in support of that particular diocese's mission. Rome can't just go around confiscating diocesan property arbitrarily in support of whatever new structures or missions it is sponsoring. The Ordinariate is supposed to be self-supporting, not a parasitical burden on existing structures.

      A diocese can certainly sell a surplus church to the Ordinariate. If it involves no significant loss to a local diocese, we can even envisage situations in which a church building might be lent to the Ordinariate. But any bishop who just gave property away like you suggest would be betraying his responsibility towards his own church. The Anglican Use parishes are a special case as the buildings would go with those whom they currently serve. Even there, however, one would expect any remaining financial obligations attached to the property (mortgages, existing liabilities, etc) to be transferred along with the buildings.

  16. Michael, you said "But any bishop who just gave property away like you suggest would be betraying his responsibility towards his own church". First, are you saying that Ordinariate Roman Catholics do not belong to an RC bishop's "own church", as in are not really Roman Catholics? if you believe this, then why attack an Episcopal bishop for doing the same thing? I am not "free with other people's property", but your definition of "other people" is different from mine. The "other people" are those who want TEC to give them their property.

    You also said "Rome can't just go around confiscating diocesan property arbitrarily in support of whatever new structures or missions it is sponsoring. The Ordinariate is supposed to be self-supporting, not a parasitical burden on existing structures." I don't mean that the Vatican will take property away from a diocese and give it to the Ordinariate. However, a local RC bishop may wish to do so as a goodwill gesture-and he has the right to do what he wishes with what his diocese owns. It would be better than selling it off. A RC diocese does own its property, doesn't it? If the Ordinariate is to be self-supporting, wouldn't givjng a free or low cost building be appropriate, especially if Ordinariate clergy are to be paid an Episcopal-style salary? Or do you all have to make your way without help, dspite the "generous" provisions of AC and ther welcome from Rome?

    1. "First, are you saying that Ordinariate Roman Catholics do not belong to an RC bishop's "own church", as in are not really Roman Catholics?"

      According to Catholic ecclesiology, a bishop's "own church" is that of which he is the bishop. For Ordinariate Catholics, their "own church" would be the Ordinariate of which they will be members. One is a Catholic by virtue of being the member of a church (diocese/ordinariate/monastic community) in communion with Rome and all the other Catholic churches. All these churches, singly and collectively, constitute the visible Catholic Church.

      "Why attack an Episcopal bishop for doing the same thing?"

      I am not attacking anyone. I am merely contesting your assertion that they ARE "doing the same thing" in anything other than a superficial sense. One would be following clear and established Catholic canon law, the other would be inventing new Episcopal canon law on the fly to change existing property arrangements. There would be nothing wrong with TEC adopting new canons vesting all NEW property at the diocesan level. This cannot be done morally retrospectively, however, with property that is already vested elsewhere.

      "However, a local RC bishop may wish to do so as a goodwill gesture-and he has the right to do what he wishes with what his diocese owns. It would be better than selling it off. A RC diocese does own its property, doesn't it?"

      Whether it would be better to give a building to the Ordinariate than selling it off is a prudential decision that lies with the bishop and which furthermore (given the value involved) would probably require Rome's consent. It's not your or my call to make. If the bishop thinks it would be better for his diocese to sell the building and use the funds to finance a local soup kitchen, he is still fulfilling his mission.

      "If the Ordinariate is to be self-supporting, wouldn't givjng a free or low cost building be appropriate, especially if Ordinariate clergy are to be paid an Episcopal-style salary?"

      We don't seem to be operating with the same definition of "self-supporting." In any case, it doesn't seem likely that Ordinariate clergy will receive "Episcopal-style salaries." Those with large families might receive supplementary compensation in kind (larger housing, free tuition for Catholic schools, that sort of thing) but this will be up to the Ordinary and the funds he is able to secure from his faithful.

      "Or do you all have to make your way without help, dspite the "generous" provisions of AC and ther welcome from Rome?"

      In principle, the Ordinariate will have to pay its own way, just like every other diocese in the USA. That doesn't exclude a helping hand here or there. An empty church could certainly be lent to the Ordinariate if it assumed the cost of maintaining it, for example.

      "Or do you all have to make your way without help, dspite the "generous" provisions of AC and ther welcome from Rome?"

      There is nothing in the provisions of AC, "generous" or otherwise, that suggests Ordinariate members won't have to pay for their own church buildings, just like all other Catholics.

      1. Not that I've made any real study of this, but I'd expect that a church building from a parish closing likely would mean that it already had a great deal of deferred maintenance. If some other congregation was even big enough to support it, it seems likely to begin with having to catch up on maintenance. On a strict monetary sense, it would seem that the underlying land has the most value for some other use, though for some other use would mean subtracting demolition costs from the value of the land. So I would not expect that a diocese would be able to sell such church buildings for a great deal to begin with, particularly if there are some historic preservation restrictions prohibiting its demolition. If that were the case, I don't see why they'd want to ask the Ordinariate for a great deal of money to take over such a church. On the other hand, I'm not sure whether the Ordinariate would want to take over a building that would likely be too large, cost a great deal to maintain, and is likely in some location that would not be conducive for the people they serve. While it seems a nice though that the Ordinariate might be able to take over some lovely and historic churches, I would not expect it to be much of an advantage to the Ordinariate other than perhaps in some isolated cases. I'd think there would be reasons that they are being closed that would also make them not suitable to the Ordinariate.

    2. Adam Armstrong said:
      “…a local RC bishop may wish to do so as a goodwill gesture-and he has the right to do what he wishes with what his diocese owns.”
      Financial decisions of a certain magnitude require Rome’s approval and cannot be made by a diocesan bishop unilaterally.

      “…do you all have to make your way without help, dspite the "generous" provisions of AC and ther welcome from Rome?”
      There are currently 86 mission dioceses in the United States, encompassing 11 million Catholics. Catholic Extension, as well as the occasional second collections at Sunday Mass, provide support to these “under resourced” dioceses. Perhaps new ordinariate parishes will participate in this program.

      As Catholics and Christians, aren’t we all called to believe that God will provide? Isn’t proclaiming the Gospel more important than a comfortable pew in a beautiful church with a well-paid staff? With God’s grace perhaps we’ll all get there one day, but not right out of the chute.

      On a broader note, I’m fascinated by the views expressed in this thread. My biggest take away is the cultural divide between the way Protestants and Catholics seem to view these matters. Perhaps I can best describe my image of the Catholic Church by using Rocco Palmo’s moniker for her—The Mother Ship.

      The Mother Ship sails ever heavenward, and we may jump overboard anytime. (There is a dedicated search and rescue crew, by the way.) But the notion of gathering a group of like-minded souls and heading off in one of the ship’s dinghies is almost unfathomable.

      On the Protestant side, it seems like this has been, and perhaps continues to be, the modus operandi.

      1. Dear Catholic in Pittsburgh, you said "Financial decisions of a certain magnitude require Rome’s approval and cannot be made by a diocesan bishop unilaterally". Of course. Selling a church building or offering it to the Ordinariate is certainly not of a certain magnitude that Rome would be involved, since closing and selling churches happens all the time.

        1. I do not know the (financial?) threshold, but Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput’s decision to sell the mansion that has been home to that city’s archbishops since 1935 will apparently require approval, according to the archbishop.

  17. I am not sure if this has been covered here or not, but I thought it might be of interest to this group to note that with the recent legal developments in the US involving some diocesan bankruptcies and the like, it appears to be something of a trend to have the Catholic dioceses incorporate their parishes as nonprofit corporations under the applicable state nonprofit corporation laws. Tucson and Milwaukee have done this, as I understand it, coming out of bankruptcy, and Phoneix and Detroit (there may well be others that Google did not immediately display) are also doing this. For Phoenix, see this FAQ page:

    The governance provisions appear to be such that the bishop retains control of the board of directors, so presumably there is no danger of a parish hiving off to some other denomination at will.

    Also instructive is the Diocese of Tucson page where if you look hard enough you will find the diocesan financial statements, which describes the current organization

Leave a Reply