Archbishop Falk Will Not Be Joining Ordinariate

From Fr. Chori Seraiah's blog (h/t Fr. Smuts):

I have been fairly silent lately. Yes, I have been busy, but there is more to it than that. It has been difficult for me to hold my tongue, but it was necessary. New events have occurred and I am able to answer the questions that many have been asking. My former parish St. Aidan's here in Des Moines has made its final decision and chosen not to join the Ordinariate after all. They will remain Anglican and Bp. Louis Falk is remaining with them (any questions about the parish itself should be directed to them and not to me). It has been a very difficult time for them, as they had come to realize that the Ordinariate was not what they wanted (at the same time that I was in the process for ordination–not an easy task for any parish). I am happy to say that there is no strife between the parish and I (or my family either). Each of us realized that we were not on the same path, and yet there is peace between us. I ask everyone to pray for them at this time.

I, on the other hand, am happily serving as a substitute hospital chaplain (a very rewarding ministry!) for the next few months, and in the meantime I am seeking to begin an Ordinariate community here in Des Moines. Anyone interested in being a part of this, please let me know by contacting me at my email address listed to the left side of this page. I am especially seeking any Anglicans/Episcopalians who are interested in what the Ordinariate has to offer; Lutherans may also find something of interest in this venture.

It is sad news to see Archbishop Louis Falk is not joining the Ordinariate and that St. Aidan's has decided not to join either.  I have never met him, but I know he was a staunch advocate of Christian unity when he was Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC).  He was one of the three Anglican Church in America (ACA) bishops who welcomed Anglicanorum coetibus.

Fr. Anthony Chadwick, my former blogging partner at the now defunct The English Catholic,  posted some rather trenchant observations about the price the Traditional Anglican Communion paid for its bid for unity.

He writes:

We in the TAC got well and truly burned. The captain at the helm looked at only one thing – his compass bearing, and to hell with the rocks, fog and other ships. The ship was wrecked. Rome said to us “Yes, but as dismantled spare parts“. They would filter, screen and sift us, have every single priest send in his application and have his vocation re-evaluated from zero all over again. The rest – all that doesn’t matter just as long as they don’t tell anyone that they are institutionally dead. And by the way, forget it if you’ve already read the book, seen the film and been there! Some shipwrecked sailors are now picking through the bits of broken mast, pieces of companionways, barrels of preserved food and shreds of torn sails – looking at what they can salvage, and then rebuild. Those courageous men and women have my esteem and prayers, and they do not have to listen to the voices of those who have become Roman Catholics “Come in, the water’s warm“. “Just be patient and wait. Rome thinks in centuries“. Forget it. Either go over or stay and rebuild, or go somewhere else.

It’s in the nature of things: the small entity approaches the big entity because it is unable to compete. Big entity considers only one thing – what is useful to it and how it can get bigger and richer. There is no idea of helping the small entity in some way.

The whole exercise has left behind such pain and bitterness.  The TAC did ask for some form of corporate reunion but the only corporate reunion that ended up on offer was parish by parish, reconstituted after individuals had converted.  I do not blame Archbishop Hepworth for his overly expansive interpretation of Anglicanorum coetibus.  As fine a mind as Fr. Aidan Nichols' told me he didn't see why the document could not cover the corporate reunion of a diocese or even a province.

For many the unfolding of the Ordinariates' character might seem too much like absorption, too much like a loss of identity for those hoping for corporate reunion of some kind.

Thankfully for us we have not experienced our coming into the Catholic Church as a loss of identity at all.  Our celebrations of the Eucharist on Sundays and everything else we do is not much different from what we did before we became Catholic.  We have guest priests now, but they love our patrimony and are doing their best to help us maintain it as we wait for our own clergy to be ordained as Catholic priests.

But this was not an easy journey.  For some it has proved impossible, at least for now.

Let's keep our comments respectful and measured, seeing as I trust most of us do hope for the Ordinariates to be successful and that eventually those who are unsure now might find them truly places where Anglican identity and patrimony are flourishing within the Catholic Church.

Author: Deborah Gyapong

Deborah Gyapong is a member of the Sodality of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary ( in Ottawa, a former parish of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (Traditional Anglican Communion) whose members were received individually and corporately into the Roman Catholic Church on April 15, 2012 by Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast at St. Patrick’s Basilica. Under the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, the community will celebrate an approved Anglican Use liturgy and hopes to soon join with other sodalities across Canada to form the Canadian Deanery of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter under Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary. As we wait for our priest(s) to be ordained as Catholic priests, God willing, Archbishop Prendergast will provide priests to celebrate our Sunday Eucharist according to the Anglican Use. Deborah is a journalist who covers religion and politics in Canada’s national capital, writing primarily for Roman Catholic newspapers since 2004. Her novel The Defilers, published in 2006, was not a best seller, alas. She spent 17 years at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in news and current affairs, including 12 years as a television producer.

19 thoughts on “Archbishop Falk Will Not Be Joining Ordinariate”

  1. I'm sure others have made this fairly obvious observation already: When a group splits from the Catholic Church, any movement to bring it back into the Church will split the smaller group as members go in different directions. It will happen with Anglicans, and it will happen with SSPX (if they get that far), and if the Orthodox Churches attempt to reunite with the Catholic Church it will happen with them as well.

    1. It has happened and now happening in the Anglican Communion and its not just about joining the Catholic Church, it is just moving back to Biblical orthodoxy (which is an important first step for joining the Catholic Church)

  2. Prayers for all involved. Perhaps it would be some consolation to realize this intense suffering very often goes hand in hand with such founding ventures. The Church of Rome had barely enough time to get started when Nero's persecution broke out. The Canadian Jesuits had just made a foothold among the Hurons when Huronia was destroyed by the Iroquois.

    This is a fire of purification.

    1. Mrs Gyapong's parish seems to have been unique in the ACCC, in that while losing about a third of its membership in the move to the Catholic church, it still retained a significant number of parishioners and its church building. No wonder she sees things as "not much different". This could not have been the experience of most former ACCC members, and perhaps this is just as well. Re-reading the old posts around the publication of AC and the "clarifications" offered by Falk, Hepworth, and others one can see how many were misled by the idea that they could just continue doing what they were doing and it would be somehow "legitimated" by pro-forma membership in the Catholic church. That's not how it works.

      1. It could easily have worked along these lines, had there been the pastoral will to make it so — even with the many caveats that one could rightly have about TAC. That it did not was the result of deliberate choices that have inflicted a great deal of unnecessary pain.

        1. Someone in a British paper characterized the Ordinariate project as something to enable Anglicans who pretended to be Catholic to become Catholics pretending to be Anglican. While this was said in no charitable spirit, it does contain a glimmer of insight. I think that the "pastoral will" which has been directed contrary to the hopes of some has been meant to remind people that they are not in the Prayer Book Society anymore, or Barbara Pymland.

          1. To what end? To dismay and intimidate or to nurture what is beautiful and valued? Slapping people about as a kind of hazing does not seem terribly welcoming.

  3. My prayers are with Fr. Chori Jonathin Seraiah. I am saddened to hear about Bishop Falk. May God bring about the miracle of healing in this process which by its very nature is difficult and painful.

  4. The Orthodox? You only have to look at Ukraine to see what a mess some things are.

    But granted, the Orthodox are not Protestants. There's a different mentality behind it. I think it would be easier to gather up various Protestant denominations.

    How I see it is this; a large group splits from the Catholic Church. But then that sets a precedent in which a subsection of the large group would split off, and that cycle continues until only the individual is left and spiritual suicide is committed by becoming an atheist. And we know how high the suicide rates are among atheists.

    1. I had to do a web search for the Church in Ukraine. Wow, I found five Eastern Churches, three are Eastern Orthodox, but the other two are in communion with the Pope. If my information is correct, that means there are two open doors for the other Eastern Christians to enter the Catholic Church without much culture shock. I think that is why the Anglican Ordinariate is a good idea even with all the pain and separation involved. It leaves a wide open door for groups of Anglicans to come into the Catholic Church and still find their familiar Anglican culture there.

      1. Yes, and we have to give the Ordinariate time to germinate. Patience is required as groups pray and struggle to find the truth. Some can't do this at the same pace as others.

        As we learn in educating children. Some grasp more quickly than others, but, in time, with diligence the children who have a different pace in internalizing objective reality will have embraced it.

      2. "that means there are two open doors for the other Eastern Christians to enter the Catholic Church without much culture shock."

        Not very likely. There is a lot of history, and some theology, behind this.
        Susan Peterson

  5. Archbishop Falk was obviously a major player in the TAC, and he decided at first to support the move to Rome. So this decision now is a major loss.

    It concerns me that only about eight of the 27 TAC priests in Canada who had applied for the nulla osta have received it to date. No, I will not name them here or elsewhere. About another six were declined. What concerns me the most is that the remainder, about twelve former TAC priests, are apparently still waiting to hear. These are excellent men. Their 'crime', in some cases, was that they were not indoctrinated in the far-left seminaries and theological colleges of the Canterburian Communion. To my way of thinking, graduation from such seminaries and colleges, if it should have any effect at all on proceeding to the Catholic priesthood, should have a negative effect. How does instruction in liberal Protestantism prepare one to become a Catholic priest? Does it not have the opposite effect? Those who attended such colleges and seminaries, it could be argued, need to be 'deprgrammed' for, say, four years, and then need to begin real formation from scratch, bringing their total training time to about ten years.

    Of course, I write this 'tongue in cheek'. The argument would be correct except for the fact that most post-conciliar Catholic seminaries are just as bad as the Canterburian parallel institutes. In many Catholic seminaries, psychiatrists were hired to identify and screen out orthodox men on grounds of being too rigid. (Ironically, in a bawdy sense, it was the men who were admitted who were too rigid.) But my point is that this lack of maleducation has been used as an excuse by Levada and company to refuse advancement of TAC clerics. I find that to be appalling. Special consideration should have been given in the case of first-generation incoming clerics from Anglican backgrounds. They have great pastoral experience, often very sound training, and they did not enter the TAC as a way to get into the Catholic priesthood though a back door, as it were. Giving them special consideartion in such circumstancees would in no way suggest a policy for future formation. Remember that Benedict XVI asked in A.C. that his m.p. be implemented in a generous spirit. Some of the Latin bishops, such as my own Bishop, took that very seriously, and have been very welcoming; others, even in Roman dicasteries, have been niggardly. I had hoped that Cardinal Levada would retire immediately–sooner if possible. But then he was replaced by someone who is even worse.

    I'm not sure where to go from here. I see the TAC as an Anglican parallel to Catholic traditionalism. For that reason, I feel a very strong sympathy for former TACers. There is a sense there of knowing where they are coming from. They have dealt with the sort of nonsense in the Canterbury Communion (at one time or another) as Latin traditionalists have suffered in the happy clappy NewChurch of Annibale Bugnini, where there is always a hand to clasp, even in the middle of Mass.


  6. Based on what I've heard from a number of TAC Anglicans the expectations at the outset were way out of line with reality. For example our priests study for a minimum of eight years plus their parish work every summer. I know of an Anglican bishop in Canada who never even attended seminary, at all. How can someone like this be brought into communion with Rome and have his orders accepted?

    How can any group who broke with Rome expect to come back and have everything their own way? I just don't get it. I would have been happier to have any Anglican come to Rome because they appreciate what we have to offer, not because they are disgruntled with where the Anglican Church is going.

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