The leaders of the three ordinariates – the structures set up to allow former Anglican clergy and lay people to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church, bringing with them much of their Anglican heritage – have met together for the first time to forge closer ties and discuss their growth and development.
Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in the UK, Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter in the United States, and Monsignor Harry Entwistle, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia, met Monday and Tuesday in Rome, where they also visited senior officials in both the Catholic and Anglican churches.
“Each ordinariate is different, but we share a common goal and a lot of the challenges we face are common ones, so this was a good opportunity to meet and discuss where we all are and how we might help each other and learn from each other’s experiences in the future,” Monsignor Newton said. “The idea is that we should meet perhaps once a year from now on.”
While in Rome, the three ordinaries were going to see the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal-designate Gerhard Ludwig Müller, and other officials there, to report on how the ordinariates are faring. They also had meetings at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and with Archbishop David Moxon, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and co – chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC).
The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was set up by Benedict XVI in 2011 in response to repeated requests from Anglicans who felt that the Anglican communion was moving further way from making unity with Rome possible. More than 80 former Anglican clergy have since been ordained as Catholic priests under its jurisdiction and there are some 40 Ordinariate groups around the country. The ordinariates in the United States and Australia followed it in 2012.
The meetings in Rome came as the Church of England’s governing body moved a step closer to appointing women bishops, an issue which has been a major stumbling block to hopes of achieving unity between the two communions.