Prophetic Gesture? First Priests of the Anglican Ordinariate to be Ordained
The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit.
Is it possible the creative - yet faithful - model emerging from the Anglican Ordinariate provides a framework which could be offered to other communities seeking to come home? Could we be living in the millennium of communion which followed the millennium of division? As the world continues to splinter, the New World of the Church may be moving toward the very unity for which Jesus Christ prayed. That would be prophetic.
LONDON, England (Catholic Online) - Toward the end of his historic visit to the United Kingdom where he presided over the beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman, an Anglican convert who prayed for the reunion of the Anglican communion with Rome, Pope Benedict XVI gathered with all of the Bishops. At the end of the address he spoke these words:
"I asked you to be generous in implementing the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. This should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all. Let us continue to pray and work unceasingly in order to hasten the joyful day when that goal can be accomplished."
On January 13, 2010, three former Anglican Bishops John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton, who were received into the full communion of the Catholic Church on the Feast of the Mother of God, January 1, 2010,will be ordained as Catholic Deacons. Two days later, they will be ordained to the Catholic Priesthood by Archbishop Nichols. They will be specifically set aside to serve the Anglican Ordinariate in the United Kingdom. This first of numerous Ordinariates around the world will be erected by a formal decree from the Holy See this week. The Holy See will also announce the first "Ordinary" to oversee this first Ordinariate.
Archbishop Nichols issued this statement on January 11, 2010: "On Saturday 15 January 2011, it will be my privilege to ordain John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton to priesthood in the Catholic Church. This ceremony will take place in Westminster Cathedral. On or before this date, I expect the Holy See to announce the establishment of the first Ordinariate for groups of former Anglicans and their clergy who seek full communion in the Catholic Church. The three men ordained on Saturday will be the first priests of this Ordinariate.
"This is a unique moment and the Catholic community in England and Wales is privileged to be playing its part in this historic development in the life of the Universal Church. We offer a warm welcome to these three former bishops of the Church of England. We welcome those who wish to join them in full communion with the Pope in the visible unity of the Catholic Church. We recognize the journey they are making with its painful departures and its uncertainties. We salute their depth of searching prayer and the desire which leads them to seek to live within the community of the Catholic Church under the ministry of the Bishop of Rome. This is the faith we share.
"We are deeply grateful for the depth of the relationship which exists here between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. This firm, positive and on-going relationship is the context for Saturday's important initiative. We are grateful, too, for the sensitive leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He graciously acknowledges the integrity of those seeking to join the Ordinariate and has assured them of his prayers. This is the noble spirit of true ecumenism between the followers of Christ.
"Pope Benedict has made clear his own intentions: that the Ordinariate can serve the wider cause of visible unity between our two churches by demonstrating in practice the extent to which we have so much to give to each other in our common service of the Lord. With this in mind he describes this step as 'a prophetic gesture.' With great trust in the Lord, we look forward to Saturday, to the new phase of Church life it brings and we ask God's blessing on its future development."
Fr. Marcus Stock, the General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, released a clear and well written primer on the operation of the Ordinariates which has simple answers to most of the questions I have heard in my work of covering this subject for all these months. It can be read in full here. Pope Benedict's use of the expression "prophetic gesture" was no accident. Its' reiteration by Archbishop Nichols only underscores its importance. This IS a prophetic gesture. Pope Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity. It was no accident that the seed of the healing began in the land of John Henry Cardinal Newman. He prayed for this day. It is no accident that the Pope of Christian unity raised him to the altars just months ago. It was another prophetic act.
To be Catholic is to enter into the prayer of Jesus for the Unity of His Church. (John 17) In Pope Benedict XVI's first Papal message he ...
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