English Wisdom: Triumvirate

Here's another contribution from former Our Lady of Walsingham parishioner, Vincent Uher.  This piece, for me at least, begs the question of when and how are we to see Governing Councils in the Ordinariates come to be.  Under Anglicanorum cœtibus, the Governing Council of a Personal Ordinariate has considerable sway, its approval necessary for a number of key pastoral decisions, such as erecting a new parish or advancing postulants to Orders.  These are unusual limits placed on the power of a Catholic Ordinary (and my only guess is that this was intended to be a nod to Anglican synodal government), but they are clearly mandated in the primary legislation and norms.  Presently, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is "governed" by the Ordinary, his assistant, Fr. Scott Hurd, and (truth be told) several "interested" Catholic bishops.

In England, at least, there has already been established some form of collegiality and aid to the Ordinary, Msgr. Newton.  It is this temporary arrangement which Mr. Uher addresses his latest piece and which we propose for our reflection.

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English Wisdom: Triumvirate

I think my family and friends in Britain have been blest greatly with a triumvirate at the head of your Ordinariate in Britain. While one must necessarily be appointed to make the final decisions, having a council of three at the top is a far better situation than having one leader in isolation. Even if in Britain this is more ad hoc than a canonical structure, I would hope this sort of triumvirate model would become the norm for the Ordinariates. Msgr. Newton has shown great, great wisdom through it.

Of course, it would be different in North America and in Australia. My family and friends in Australia might imagine the Ordinary being named and then two others raised up (as Monsignors of the Protonotary Apostolic or something like it) who would perhaps be former bishops in TAC, the Australian Anglican Church or former priests of the same. It would be incredibly wise to create from the marvellous incoming Church in Torres Strait such a Monsignor to serve in this triumvirate.

In North America it would make sense to create such a triumvirate under Msgr. Steenson as well. The territory is vast, and the Ordinariate is not the only expression of the Anglican Patrimony in the Catholic Church in North America. By way of example, a former Anglican Catholic bishop in Canada would make an excellent choice as another Monsignor with oversight for the Canadian deanery. And it would be prudent and very wise to make the senior pastor of the Pastoral Provision parishes also a Monsignor with similar oversight responsibilities among those in the Pastoral Provision but serving in concert with his brother in Canada and together with Msgr Steenson's leadership of the Ordinariate.

I offer these thoughts to my family and friends who are far more influential than I. No one seems much interested in what a lay hermit in Texas thinks of these things. So I entrust the ideas to you if they are worthy. The one thing that has become clear to me is that a single Ordinary with a Vicar General and an office assitant is an irreduceable minimum that should have been given more provisions for the journey by Rome. It is too small an organisational model to be effective with so great a missionary task.

I know some will say, But look here! In North America, the Ordinary has got health insurance for us this May. And look at all of the men being ordained through the training programme he developed. I am in no way trying to take away from these stellar achievements. One should applaud the Ordinary right heartily for being willing to take up a task where Rome provided no money and the USCCB offered no immediate help with Insurance from the get go. We see that as an historian and a scholar he is absolutely the right person for all of these tasks at the onset. There are other considerations though where he would be well served to have brothers — a Msgr. 'Canada' and a Msgr. 'Pastoral Provision' with which to work in this common mission.

What has developed in England from Msgr. Newton's excellent leadership and vision is clearly a model worth repeating. And it really is worth reapting everywhere an Ordinariate is established or where they might be a mixed situation like that in North America … say in India for example. My family in India have some very clear thoughts about these things, but sadly… and it is sad that this is the case across the board, there is only the most limited collaboration with the Laity in Christ of the Anglican Patrimony, a matter that should be corrected post haste. Bishops and priests don't make the Church. Jesus Christ and all of His Faithful make the Church.

Author: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organized the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. He is also the CEO of Three Fish Consulting, LLC, an Information Technology consultancy based in Orlando, FL. He can be reached via email at ccampbell at threefish dot co.

16 thoughts on “English Wisdom: Triumvirate”

    1. Actually, according to that page there are 6 members of the Interim Governing Council; the Ordinary's name is listed, as he presides at meetings of the Council, but is not himself one of the members.

  1. One of the things an Ordinary has to do is to write statutes for his Governing Council and get them approved by the CDF. That takes time and the CDF is pretty busy vetting personal dossiers right now. So the OLW Council is as yet an interim structure. But it will develop into the full structure envisaged in the governing texts. So, no doubt, will the COP and OLSC Ordinariates. But for goodness sake, let's give the leaderships some time folks! The first and absolute priority has to be to get the priests ordained and in post with their flocks.

    If one reads the Apostolic constitution and the Complementary Norms one see that the relationships between the Ordinary and the disocesan bishops has been pretty carefully worked out. The one area which was not covered was indeed the relationship between the COP Ordinaraiate and the Pastoral Provision parishes which come under the jurisdiction of the relevant diocesans. The application form for membership of the COP Ordinariate has a category: "I have previously been baptized within the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, and I now worship at an Anglican Use or Ordinariate congregation" which was not envisaged for the OLW Ordinariate – which probably means that some modification to the Norms had to be applied for.

    1. Just a passing small point. Should not C.S.P., rather than C.o.P., be the abbreviation for the North American Ordinariate?
      It took me some time to work out … after all, one talks of O.S.B. for the Order of St.Benedict, rather that O.o.B.
      Kind regards,

      1. I might be wrong, but as far as I know the feast is officially called "Cathedra Petri", not "Cathedra Sancti Petri". So no, C.O.P. is fine.

  2. England is one year ahead, and it is quite a different situation because it did not have the pastoral provision, and more.

    The first step to developing a structure is ordination. In just six months, the U.S. Ordinariate has prepared 30 men for ordination, according to its website. That is a significant accomplishment, particularly since the Ordinariate was not given any financial or other resources to start.

    1. Did the U.S. Ordinariate not want any resources to begin with? It had often been said beforehand that they were expected to have the advantage of the Pastoral Provision Communities as a beginning base, and they all did seem to be aboard with the idea up until shortly before the Ordinariate was created.

      1. Daniel, good luck with your fishing. It seems we are not to be told what the real situation is with the Pastoral Provision parishes who have not joined the Ordinariate. This is a pity because it leads to all sorts of unnecessary and unpleasant speculation.

        Please can we be informed without necessarily washing dirty linen? That ought to be possible among friends in Christ.

  3. The need for reliable counselors which the idea of a triumvirate includes is real and to be commended. But it was a "historical accident" which made a "triumvirate" in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham possible; the ordination of the three former flying bishops as priests on the same day. At this point, 18 months later, there is an interim council of 6, but the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter has only this month incardinated its first priest, Fr. Bergman. There could be no council until there were priests to be included on it (AC X. § 2. The Governing Council, presided over by the Ordinary, is composed of at least six priests. ). Once the June-July ordination season has finished, I'm sure we'll see movement on the appointment of an interim Council.

    1. Thanks for pointing out that Fr. Bergman is the first priest to have been incardinated. Fr. Hurd has not been, and yet is the assistant to the Ordinary. Whether or not the various other Anglican Use pastors were ever to become incardinated, might they not have been invited to become part of an INTERIM council? It is hardly a case that they have shown no interest in the Ordinariate. As is rather obvious, the majority of them had been promoting it by hosting such things as the Anglican Use Conferences and other informational meetings regarding Anglicanorum Coetibus. I can't say I had noticed that for the first year or so prior to the appointment of Cardinal Wuerl in regards to Msgr. Steenson or Fr. Hurd, though they rather quickly were the ones sitting behind him as he informed the Bishops Conference. If you were to look at the early promoters of the Ordinariate prior to the actual erection, you would see things like the formation of the pro-diocese of the Holy Family. Did they get too ahead of things and therefore had to be put to the end of the line rather than being invited to an INTERIM council? Checking the archives here and one of the few people that it is suggested was invited to meet with Cardinal Wuerl to represent those interested was Bishop Moyer, who of course no longer under consideration for the Ordinariate.

      1. It certainly would be desireable and beneficial were Msgr. Steenson to take counsel with the Anglican Use pastors, with Bishop Campese of the Pro-Diocese of the Holy Family, et al. And for all I know, he has.

        But the interim council would, I think, necessarily be composed of Ordinariate priests, and the Ordinariate has only just reached the bare number of priests to appoint 6. When such a council is formed, it will be interim because A) it does not have approved statutes (in fact, drawing up such statutes will be one of its tasks) and B) none of its membership will have been elected by the Ordinariate priests (half of the Governing Coucil is to be elected by the priests of the Ordinariate, according to the Complementary Norms, Article 12 § 5.).

        1. There has been nothing indicated as to who Msgr. Steenson has consulted on ways to proceed other than that he obviously was part of Cardinal Wuerl's group that planned out the "implementation" of the Ordinariate. Along with some bishops, that seems to have included Msgr. Steenson (at least in regards to seminary training) and Fr. Hurd. Msgr. Stetson, formerly of the Pastoral Provision office, seems to have been consulted by Msgr. Steenson as well, seeing as he was given the assignment of assisting St. Mary of the Angels with entering the Ordinariate (which does not seem to be something that will happen). While he has no doubt met others, that has always seemed to be in regards to their own status and there has been little evidence as to who is now consulting to make his decisions (which would seem to have been the point of the article).

  4. I would have thought it might take about a year for the COP Ordinariate to grow sufficiently to make make real progress on development of its governance structures. A sensible target might be the occasion of the first Chrism Mass. It would be very nice if the Chrism Mass for the first year could be a "special occasion" as was the first such mass for the OLW Ordinariate with the Apostolic Nuncio as principal celebrant.

    It is, I think, very important to have occasions where priests can worship in a collegial way with their brothers and, while that may be rather more expensive to organise in a jurisdiction the size of Mgr Steenson's, I'm sure every collegial occasion with be worth every penny (or cent).

  5. Indeed, Rome wasn't built in a day — and that was before the current residents were running it. 😉

  6. I think I should point out that the Triumvirate arrangement in Britain is not a temporary structure, nor is it a personal brainchild of anyone at Ordinariate level. Instead it is specifically foreseen in Article 11 §2 of the Complementary Norms to Anglicanorum Coetibus, which provides for the Ordinary to appoint former Anglican bishops as his assistants, in which case they fulfil the rôle of Auxiliary Bishops (Ordinaries).

    This is something quite distinct from the Governing Council, which was also established in the UK from day one. As there were only few Ordinariate priests to be elected, the first Governing Council was appointed by the Ordinary. It included the Assistant Ordinaries, the episcopal delegate for the implementation of AC and the Secretary of the Bishops' Conference.

    As soon as was practical, an election of members of the presbyterate to the Governing Council took place.

    This shows how Mgr. Newton and subsequently he and his Assistants have faithfully implemented the founding documents and not reinvented the wheel.

    I am not completely aware of the exact situation in the States. It might be interesting to learn this from an informed party, before speculating, criticising and the rest.

  7. And if you look at the OLW website, you will see that the Ordinary has appointed his Chancellor and Vice Chancellor, both diocesan Clergy who are Judges of the Tribunals of other dioceses, while there are two Ordinariate priests hard at work doing a canon law course at Louvain. So the juridical side of the jurisdiction is moving forward too. In fact, if you then pop over to the Ancient Richborough blog of Mgr Barnes you will find that one of the topics for the plenary of the Ordinarariate clergy was on the importance of regularising the marriages of those in irregular situations wherever it is possible so to do. You will aslo find a chaming account of how Mgr Barnes received the news of his new appointment at the new meeting.

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