Matabeleland, Canada and the Ordinariate

Robert Mercer CR with his sponsor, and Msgr Keith & Concelebrants

A historic day in the Catholic Church — today Robert Mercer CR, one-time Bishop of Matabeleland and more recently Metropolitan of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, was received into the Roman Catholic Communion.  Msgr Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham celebrated and preached.  Assisting were Fr Jonathan Redvers-Harris who leads the Group in Ryde on the Isle of Wight, together with Fr Anthony Glaishyer the parish Priest of St Mary's Ryde (in the Biretta above),  and with them Fr Graham Smith from Poole (rt) and Fr Edwin Barnes (left) of the Bournemouth Group.

Msgr Keith & Fr Maunder

All this took place in the Church of St Agatha, Portsea, through the kindness of Fr Maunder of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) who is a Trustee of St Agatha's and cares for the TAC congregation which worships there.  Before his sermon Msgr Keith read out a letter of greeting from Bishop David Moyer who oversees the TAC groups in England. Bishop Moyer saw this day as a foretaste of what is to come, when many in the wider Anglican family are able to enter into Communion with the Catholic Church.

Apres Mass

It was good that Bishop Mercer was supported by so many old friends, Catholic, Anglican and "Continuing".  It was an immensely happy occasion, and the regulars of St Agatha's put on a great spread for the reception after Mass.  The Rite used was that approved by the Catholic Church for Anglican Use parishes in the USA, the Book of Divine Worship (and permitted for use in the English Ordinariate), and the celebration was Eastward facing ('ad orientem').

Msgr Keith in the midst

A small choir led us in singing the Missa de Angelis and a good selection of Epiphany hymns, while the Propers were of the day, Saturday in Christmas time.

* * *

The Anglican Catholic Church in Canada (ACCC) is part of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) and traces its origin to the Congress of St Louis.

If any of the information in this posting is inaccurate I would welcome corrections in the comments section. Thanks. EB

Author: Fr. Edwin Barnes

Bishop Barnes read theology for three years at Oxford before finishing his studies at Cuddesdon College (at the time a theological college with a rather monastic character). He subsequently served two urban curacies in Portsmouth and Woking. During his first curacy, and after the statutory three years of celibacy, he married his wife Jane (with whom he has two children, Nicola and Matthew). In 1967, Bishop Barnes received his first incumbency as Rector of Farncombe in the Diocese of Guildford. After eleven years, the family moved to Hessle, in the Diocese of York, for another nine years as vicar. In 1987, he became Principal of St Stephen’s House, Oxford. In 1995, he was asked by then Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, to become the second PEV for the Province. He was based in St. Alban’s and charged with ministering to faithful Anglo-Catholics spread over the length of Southern England, from the Humber Estuary to the Channel Islands. After six years of service as a PEV, Bishop Barnes retired to Lymington on the south coast where he holds the Bishop of Winchester’s license as an honorary assistant bishop. On the retirement of the late and much lamented Bishop Eric Kemp, he was honored to be asked to succeed him as President of the Church Union. Both these appointments he resigned on becoming a Catholic in 2010. Fr. Barnes is now a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, caring for an Ordinariate Group in Southbourne, Bournemouth.

27 thoughts on “Matabeleland, Canada and the Ordinariate”

  1. This a good news but I foresee several headaches in Rome caused by the majority of British TAC clerics who seek ordination. The majority are simply not up to scratch and their following is minute.

    1. It is good that Bishop Mercer is here. A minute following was huddled in the upper room two thousand years ago. It's smallness did not diminish it's importance.

    2. Oh Mr Bowles – you seem to have insight. Can you please leave these matters to those competent to pronounce? I believe that the CDF takes precedence in these matters.

  2. Yet Fr Maunder is a theology graduate and excellent teacher and a good pastor of his flock. I do hope men of the calibre and quality of Fr Maunder will come over and be accepted for the Catholic priesthood. We need good priests,. The poor clerical formation of the Church of England ( two year courses) does not seem to have deterred the Vatican.

    1. How wonderful it would be for the English ordinariate to have St Agatha as its principal church. Please, don't accuse me of "wanting the TAC people just because they have a church", (it's not the case at all) but still, it would be great.

      +PAX et BONUM

    2. As a former Anglican I do not agree with the inference that Anglican priests lack in theological preparation when compared with Catholic priests.

      My experience is that Anglican priests are, intellectually, mostly far more "prepared" than the Catholic priests that I have met and, socially, far more amenable and understanding of the challenges of modern day living.

      The "calibre" of former Anglican and those that remain in the Anglo-Catholic CofE is much higher than most Catholic priests – in my opinion.

      1. Yes, but there are area of theology that Anglicans simply don't study at seminary: canon law, moral theology, ecclesiology, and mariology among others. Patristics is studied, but not in depth.
        The seminary cursus for an Episcopal Priest lasts 3 years. For a Catholic Priest it's 5.

        + PAX et BONUM

        1. Canon law seems to be the most significant area of ignorance (I use the word non-pejoratively) for former Anglican clergy.

  3. St Agatha's is owned by the local council and is no longer owned by any Church. The TAC simply hire it out… as could any other group.

    1. Anybody wanting 'to hire it out' is advised to apply to the St Agatha's Trust.
      The rates are reasonable – for approved events.

  4. I am reminded again of Fr. Paul Wattson, the founder of the community the Society of the ATONEMENT. The Society began in the Episcopal Church and was brought into the Catholic Church. Serving at Fr. Paul's first Catholic Mass of Thanksgiving (just over 100 years ago) as the sub-deacon was a holy Capuchin priest, Fr. Solanus Casey. He was from a family of Irish descent, but the Capuchin seminary which he attended was taught in German and Latin. He had some difficulty in learning in what had been to him foreign languages, and so his training wound up a bit less than what was considered adequate. He was nevertheless ordained, but with limited faculties that did not allow him to hear confessions and give homilies. He was referred to as a "simplex priest".

    While the practice of ordaining "simplex priests" seems to have been done away with, it is still possible. In fact I had asked Msgr. Newton about the possibility of ordinations while granting limited faculties at the ANGLICAN USE conference at St. Mary the Virgin parish in the DIOCESE of Arlington. He answered in the affirmative, that something like that could be possible, though did not say whether or not it might be done. He gave as an example not providing the faculty of confirmations to a priest working as a hospital chaplain that would limit the ability to receive others into the Catholic Church. I'd expect that many of the "Anglican" priests seeking to enter the Ordinariate have for the most part received sufficient training to be able to offer the Mass for a congregation. Perhaps they might then be asked for the time being to read a homily composed for that purpose and not hear confessions until their training in those fields is sufficient to receive the faculty. Nowadays it seems the practice is most common to only ordain when full faculties can be provided, but I'd think something could be worked out to fit the circumstances.

  5. I think that the designation of "Simplex Priest" may be very applicable and a excellent solution to some Anglican priests who seek to enter the Ordinariate. There are many within the continuing churches who, while studying for ordination also held down a secular job…no easy thing to do. Their vocational training may not be up to complete seminary standards, but they have brought life-skills to their vocations that could have only been honed "on the streets", as they say. They have, and still do, reach the least of our brethren, and I've seen some wonderful evangelization work performed by these men. What they seem to lack in academics, they have been given by the Holy Spirit. In a time of a dearth of vocations, the station of "Simplex Priest" has great value. After all, even though a man is ordained, he continues to study for the rest of his life. It is a wise thing that every man entering the Ordinariate is examined on a case by case basis…that way the uniqueness of that man's Vocation can be seen and appreciated. I know I'm approaching this issue rather simply and perhaps with a bit of naivite, but according to the Scriptures and some of the lives of our Saints…God often sees fit to use the simple… Fr. Solanus Casey is just one such example.

    God-speed all you good clergy-men as you discern and work to His call!

  6. P.S. There was another guy in France by the name of John Marie Vianney who also had a lot of trouble getting through his studies, and I've read that he made a pretty good priest as well….. 😉

    1. I can think of no worse fate for a priest than to be deprived from absolving and preaching. But as for the first, I cannot help wondering if the rapidly-ordained priests of the Ordinariate ever sat an ad auds examination. Pastoral necessity was given as the reason for such speed, but none had been properly trained and their experience of the Church was non-existent. From what I understand, the majority of TAC priests working in Britain have had no training of any value.

      1. Of course, I'm referring to cases where they would already be deprived from absolving and preaching along with being unable to offer Mass by not being ordained whatsoever. From your statement about those that have been rapidly ordained, it seems to suggest that they are not being deprived of ordination due to insufficient training. If so then it sounds as if there are already some type of "simplex" priests. My scenario would be with the presumption that some are not being ordained at all as they are not yet adequately trained for all of the faculties available. Your scenario seems to suggest the next stage, that they have been ordained to offer Mass without full faculties and aren't given the additional training to acquire the faculties they'd be lacking. While that would be a problem, I'd think that having the faculty to offer Mass by virtue of having been ordained for that purpose would be preferable to being kept waiting from any type of ordination as they are not receiving the training they'd need to preach and absolve.

      2. Mr. Bowles wrote: …the majority of TAC priests working in Britain have had no training of any value.

        No value. Really? That seems a bit harsh. I am completely unfamiliar with the background and training of TTAC clergy, but Catholicism has always been quite adept at finding at least a bit of truth, i.e. value, in almost everything and using it further the glory of God.

  7. I deliberately keep my distance from the Ordinariate but from what I have read on websites (ie the Tunbridge Wells Ordinariate) there seem to be no restrictions imposed upon the ministerial lives of the quickly ordained priests who serve them. Check for yourself.

    1. I check the Tunbridge Wells group's website but could not find any reference to ordination let alone the lack of restrictions thereto.

    2. I'm a little unclear about your inference Mr Bowles. The Archbishop of Southwark doesn't seem to share your outlook as he has put Ordinariate priest Fr Ed Tomlinson in charge of a 'quasi' parish ministering to both Ordinariate and cradle Catholic alike!
      Are you suggesting that the prelate is in error?

    3. Mr. Bowles,

      I'm afraid that "deliberately keeping your distance" from the Ordinariate hardly qualifies you to make suggestions on or criticisms of the training of their clergy.
      But may it suffice to cite what Mgr. Newton himself explained at the Anglican Use Conference in Arlington, Texas, last year: Ordinariate priests will obtain full training as Catholic priests. The only difference is that, because of the pastoral necessities of ministering to the flock of faithful they have brought with them into the Catholic Church, the actual priestly ordination is brought forward to an earlier date within the training progress. The seminary training of those priests ordained in 2011 will generally continue for approximately two years after ordination. There is no question of reducing the faculties conferred in these cases.
      But, Mr. Bowles, I do invite you to rethink your attitude towards the Ordinariate, approaching the issue perhaps with a more open mind.

      Pax et bonum

      David Murphy

  8. This matter of "simplex priests" does not make sense to me. If you are ordained a priest, you are a priest. If a person wishes to make his/her confession and there is only a simplexpriest available, is he to refuse to hear the confession? If he does hear the confession, is he then unable to absolve the penitent because he does not have this faculty? The training of clergy is one thing, but once ordained as a priest, surely that priest has all that priestly ordination confers.

    1. Ordination has always been understood not merely as an independent act of the Holy Spirit, but also an act which involves the intent of the ordaining bishop. If the bishop intends to convey only certain aspects of the priesthood, then this must theoretically be possible.
      The more important question is, however, whether it is desirable to have so-called simplex priests at all. It seems that the Ordinariate practice of continuing training beyond the actual date of ordination is a far superior idea. In this case, faculties might, if considered necessary, be granted gradually over the training period. It is the Ordinary who decides which faculties are given to whom.

      1. I wasn't intending to suggest that they permanently remain "simplex-priests", simply that it would not be necessary that all of the faculties would need to be qualified for in order to be ordained at all. Basically we're saying the same thing since you're referring to continuing education after ordination and granting faculties over a gradual period.

        In cases of danger of death, any ordained priest can hear a confession. Generally the faculty to hear confessions is presumed to have been granted by the bishop, but he can withhold or revoke the faculty. A priest that does not have the faculty, except in the case of the danger of death, cannot grant absolution validly. I'm not suggesting that most priests wouldn't quickly qualify for the faculty as I'm not sure what standard is being set. I'd suppose that training would include a certain amount of pastoral counseling, and if so I would think that until that is completed there would be no reason to not have the ordained say Mass.

        From what some are saying, it sounds like it might already be happening through some gradual granting of faculties. I was simply using terminology that may be uncommon, but did not mean for it to be a permanent condition.

  9. My dear brothers, perhaps I'm just not as informed as you about the training and education of ordinariate-bound and newly minted ordinariate priests in England. I am caught off guard to learn from your many comments that their educational level would in any way limit the quality of priest, even faculties granted to priests of the ordinariate. Certainly adequate education is highly desirable and expected of all our priestly candidates of the ordinariates. However, that is something for the CDF and trusted leadership of the ordinariate to evaluate and determine in accordance with the program for priestly formation. I cannot imagine (perhaps it is because I am so unfamiliar with the training requirements for the catholic priesthood) that the ordinariate priestly community would be limited in offering their gifts using all the priestly faculties. In the U.S. it appears to me that the education of Episcopal clergy is a very high quality and priestly ordination requires the graduate professional degree of Master of Divinity, a post-baccalaureate degree. Formal education is but one piece the puzzle. Priestly formation is multifaceted and consists of qualities that are also of personal qualities and spiritual character, as one might expect.

    As an ordinariate-bound clergy, I think it important that our shared experience on this journey toward full reception by Mother Church marks a new beginning to be cherished and embraced by each of us as community without regard to what our level of education might have been as ministers in the Anglican communion.

    The challenge before us is great and our learning curve will be as well. I am confident that together, with charity and goodwill, we can succeed to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ whom we serve.

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