England's Ordinariate Facing Challenges, Yet Moving Ahead

Australian Prelate Gives Report of Impressions

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MELBOURNE, Australia, FEB. 6, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Auxiliary Bishop Peter Elliott of Melbourne recently visited London and wrote about his impressions of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walshingham, established just over a year ago for Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Bishop Elliott, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference episcopal delegate for the ordinariate, and himself a former Anglican, was present at an act of thanksgiving on Jan. 15 that marked the first anniversary of the Ordinariate for England and Wales.

Following his two week visit to London he wrote a commentary, published on the Web site of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walshingham, giving his impressions.

“What I discerned in London is an Ordinariate that is growing steadily, facing challenges, especially church sharing, yet moving ahead,” he said. 

The ordinariate is still very much at its early stages, he noted, but fears that the Catholic bishops of England and Wales are exercising undue control do not seem to be well founded, according to what he saw in his time there.

New groups are forming, said Bishop Elliott, and “individuals are quietly making their choice for unity.”

The groups that make up the ordinariate are giving mutual support to one another, he said, and are not “disaffected or battle weary,” but are joined together in common worship, friendship and service, “and an appreciation of Catholicism in terms of the concrete reality of the Church and her mission.”

“This ‘coming together’ of groups seeking unity is the final act and fulfillment of the Oxford Movement,” Bishop Elliott observed.

Aussie situation

Comparing the situation to that in Australia, Bishop Elliott noted that there are important differences. For example, women bishops are already present in the Anglican Church in Australia, and when they are finally a reality in England then this may well lead to a further movement of people into the ordinariate.

Moreover, in Australia the future members of the ordinariate will not just be drawn from one source, that is, current members of the Anglican Church, but also from those Anglicans in Australia who already belong to the Traditional Anglican Communion.

“Already there are good signs of cooperation and a welcoming spirit as we await the official timeline for the Ordinariate in Australia,” said Bishop Elliott.

He finished his commentary with an invitation to pray for the new Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter in the United States. On Jan. 1, it was announced that the ordinariate will be launched with a Solemn Mass of Institution and the installation of Reverend Jeffery N. Steenson as first ordinary this Sunday.

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