A Reader’s Response

Well, appointment to various ministries on behalf of dioceses that have a significant shortage of clergy is a very effective way of supporting an overabundance of clergy. Indeed, that’s precisely what may Catholic religious orders do. Let’s not be so quick to disparage it. An abundance of clergy will serve the ordinariates well, especially as older clergy approach retirement.
And yes, ordinariate congregations do have a clear need for (1) a clear identity and vision and (2) adequate facilities for their worship, for community gatherings, and for catechesis and other ministries. However, these needs can vary greatly depending upon the size of an ordinariate congregation and the circumstances in which it finds itself. Nevertheless, there is no reason, in principal, why an ordinariate congregation cannot share facilities and even some ministries with a diocesan congregation, so long as the facilities and shared ministries are adequate to meet the needs of both communities. Given that the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus explicitly stipulates that “[c]andidates for Holy Orders in an Ordinariate should be prepared alongside other seminarians, especially in the areas of doctrinal and pastoral formation[,]” what is the difficulty with children of ordinariate communities and candidates for reception into ordinariate communities receiving catechetical instruction alongside their counterparts from a local diocesan parish? There seem to be several instances in which parish churches host a mass celebrated according to the ordinary form at 9:00 or 9:30, ostensibly for the diocesan congregation, and another mass according to the Divine Worship missal at 10:30 or 11:00 AM, ostensibly for the ordinariate congregation, with an ordinariate priest canonically appointed as both pastor of the diocesan parish and chaplain or administrator of the ordinariate congregation. Where both congregations are small, this arrangement can work very well for both. In addition, a common program of catechesis may provide enough students to form classes of reasonable size and to recruit enough volunteers to serve as teachers in such programs.
As to the question of a leadership, there is no objective reason why the ordinary of an ordinariate must be a bishop. Rather, the Catholic Church has a longstanding tradition of particular churches canonically equivalent to dioceses that are led by presbyters. The abbot of a territorial abbacy never receives episcopal ordination, yet “governs it as its proper pastor just like a diocesan bishop” (Canon 370of the
Codex Juris Canonici) — and there still are quite a few territorial abbacies in Europe in spite of recent efforts to relieve them of that status by assigning their territory to existing or newly erected dioceses. The prelate of a territorial prelature, the apostolic prefect of an apostolic prefecture, the apostolic vicar of an apostolic vicariate, and the apostolic administrator of an apostolic administration also need not be bishops, but nevertheless are canonically equivalent to a diocesan bishop. The preponderance of ordinaries of military ordinariates, who also are canonically equivalent to diocesan bishops, also are not bishops. The only complication, if the ordinary is not a bishop, is that he must recruit a bishop to perform ordinations of clergy for the ordinariate on his behalf since he cannot do so personally.
But here is the bigger picture. The tact taken in the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus is in fact walking a tightrope. Here’s the backdrop.
>> 1. The desire, on both sides, was, and still is, to provide an ecclesial structure that will allow former Anglican bishops, many of whom are married, who come into the Catholic Church with their congregations to retain their role of substantially episcopal leadership and to allow clergy from those structures, some of whom may be married, to succeed them in that role.
>> 2. Ecumenical dialog between the Catholic Church and the churches of the Orthodox Communion has progressed very well, and the magisterium of the Catholic Church does not want to throw a wrench into the works by doing anything that might create a new obstacles to reconciliation. The Orthodox Communion maintains a celibate episcopacy, so there is no small concern in the Vatican that episcopal ordination of married men might create a difficulty.
Calling the new ecclesial structures for former Anglicans “ordinariates” rather than “dioceses” allows the “ordinary” to be either a presbyter, if married, or a bishop, if celibate. The “ordinary” possesses the same canonical authority as a diocesan bishop either way — a fact manifest by the fact that the ordinary wears the same ecclesial garb and uses the same pontifical insignia as a diocesan bishop, even he is not a bishop.
Going forward, the ordinariates and their communities have much to do — and there is no use in pretending otherwise.
>> Many communities do need to work toward self-sufficiency and sustainability, including acquisition of their own facilities and growing their numbers to attain critical mass and financial stability.
>> The ordinariates need build and form additional communities that will strengthen their numbers. In the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, the reception of the Church of the Torres Strait is a particular challenge because many of its congregations are in locations where there is no substantial Catholic presence or infrastructure — but its reception will strengthen that ordinariate considerably, as well as bringing a Catholic presence where there presently is none.
>> The ordinariates also need to work toward self-sufficiency and sustainability, including development of the pastoral resources that a normal diocese would provide. This includes sending clergy to study for pontifical degrees in fields such as sacred theology and canon law to staff marriage tribunals and other standard elements of a diocesan curia and to provide a cadre of candidates to succeed the ordinaries.
None of this will happen overnight, but the foundation is in place. I think that things are moving in the right direction in all three ordinariates.

One thought on “A Reader’s Response

  1. The essential issue for the Ordinariate is to find young men wishing to be priests. The present contingent ranges from a few younger men through to a top heavy decidedly elderly batch who will be dropping out of active ministry, if not directly into the grave, over the next five to ten years. The current handful of seminarians
    will need to double if not quadruple every year if the present numbers are to be maintained.
    There is also a heavy dependence upon CofE clergy moving off the sinking ship and on to the barque of Peter. Clergy attracted to the Ordinariate are like a rare breed and fast running out. Those who have joined the CofE since the foundation of the Ordinariate are unlikely to leave and indeed, are unlikely to be accepted by Rome. So we are looking at an ever decreasing pool of ex Anglican clergy who are of retirement age or older. And from that pool many are opting for the direct route via the local diocese. Here we are talking about the Novus Ordo Anglo Catholic type who know nothing of the Prayer Book tradition or the English Missal and who can slot quite easily into westward facing non descript worship centres wearing the oatmeal coloured polyester poncho. There are many of this type already within the Ordinariate, indeed some are quite hostile to the Book of Divine Worship and all that it entails. So the future is going to be a challenge! Nothing new there of course but it suggests that the present “steady as she goes approach” will need some serious revision unless, of course, we accept the “conspiracy theory” approach which goes something like this. The Bishops of Engkand and Wales never wanted the Ordinariate and have discovered that through acts of extreme kindness they can actually kill it. Offer posts to Ordinariate clergy, who have no income, to run diocesan parishes who thereby become dependent upon the good mmwill of the local bishop. Running one or even two parishes leaves little time for the Ordinariate group which either dies off or is absorbed into the parish structure. Either way it’s a success – the parish has a priest and the Ordinariate disappears. With sincere tears of regret the bishops can say “Well, we did try our best”. Yes, you certainly did.

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