LONDON, JAN. 16, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is sending his blessing to three former Anglican bishops who were ordained the first Catholic clergy of the new Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Father Keith Newton, Father Andrew Burnham and Father John Broadhurst were ordained Catholic priests on Saturday in London’s Westminster Cathedral for the newly erected ordinariate in England and Wales. Father Newton was appointed by the Pope as the first ordinary to head the community.
This ordinariate, erected by the Holy See on Saturday, was stipulated in “Anglicanorum coetibus” for those groups of Anglican clergy and faithful who have expressed their desire to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.
In a message that was read Saturday during the ordination ceremony, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reported that the Pontiff “asked me to convey to you that he cordially imparts his apostolic blessing upon the ordinandi Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton, together with their wives and family members and upon all other participants in this solemn rite.”
The cardinal affirmed that this is “an occasion of great joy both for them and for the wider Church.”
All three newly ordained priests are married, and all have children.
In a communiqué regarding the creation of the new ordinariate, the Holy See explained that “for doctrinal reasons the Church does not, in any circumstances, allow the ordination of married men as bishops.”
“However,” it added, “the apostolic constitution [‘Anglicanorum coetibus’] does provide, under certain conditions, for the ordination as Catholic priests of former Anglican married clergy.”
Groups of Anglicans
The communiqué noted that these three clergy will now “oversee the catechetical preparation of the first groups of Anglicans in England and Wales who will be received into the Catholic Church together with their pastors at Easter.”
They will also “accompany the clergy preparing for ordination to the Catholic priesthood around Pentecost.”
Cardinal Levada stated: “I pray that God will abundantly bless them, and also those other clergy and faithful who are preparing to join them in full communion with the Catholic Church.
“In the midst of the uncertainty that every period of transition inevitably brings I wish to assure you all of our admiration for you, and of our prayerful solidarity.”
He affirmed that the establishment of the new ordinariate “marks a unique and historic moment in the life of the Catholic community in this country.”
The prelate expressed the hope that it “will bring great blessings not only on those directly involved in it, but upon the whole Church.”
A new step
In his homily during the ordination Mass, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster also affirmed, “Today is a unique occasion marking a new step in the life and history of the Catholic Church.”
“I thank so many in the Church of England who have recognized your sincerity and integrity in making this journey and who have assured you of their prayers and good wishes,” the prelate acknowledged. “First among these is Rowan [Williams], archbishop of Canterbury, with his characteristic insight, and generosity of heart and spirit.”
“Today we thank the Holy Father for the courageous leadership he gives in establishing the first personal ordinariate,” the archbishop said.
He continued: “His intentions are clear. It is, as he has said, ‘a prophetic gesture.’
“It is to contribute to the wider goal of visible unity between our two Churches by helping us to know in practice how our patrimonies of faith and living can strengthen each other in our mission today.”
“The quest for the visible unity of the Church remains an imperative,” the prelate asserted. “In it the role of the successor of St. Peter is crucial.”
He added: “The Pope’s ministry to the visible unity of the Church is central to the faith of the Catholic Church.
“It is central to the faith of those who enter into full communion in this ordinariate. It is central to the welcome, encouragement and support the Catholic community in England and Wales gives to this development and to all who seek to be part of it.”
Archbishop Nichols underlined “the work of the ordained priest: to pronounce with confidence the forgiveness of God and to bring peace to a troubled soul and a troubled world.”
He affirmed, “Our mission is characterized by woundedness: a mission to a wounded world; a mission entrusted to a wounded Church, carried out by wounded disciples.
“The wounds of sin are our business,” the archbishop said. “The wounds of Christ, even though we have caused them, are also our consolation and strength.”
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On ZENIT’s Web page:
Cardinal Levada’s message: http://zenit.org/article-31469?l=english
Holy See statement: http://zenit.org/article-31468?l=english
Archbishop Nichols’ homily: http://zenit.org/article-31470?l=english