Days before his ordination to the Catholic priesthood, former Anglican bishop talks candidly about his path to the ordinaritate
By Anna Arco
Thursday, 13 January 2011
How do you see the ordinariate working alongside existing dioceses and existing churches?
I think we’ll be very close because there are so many ex-Anglicans in existing churches. And also in order to function the ordinariate clergy will want to – and have to – work in the Catholic dioceses. Some of them will be doing specialist jobs like school chaplains, prison chaplains, hospital chaplains, and some of them will be simply mucking in with the local diocese, helping ease the shortage of priests. So there’ll be thorough intermingling. Just as in any diocese there are clergy where you look in the handbook and you are somewhat surprised to find they are a White Father on loan or actually they’re a Benedictine who isn’t in their mother house, you will find that there will be ordinariate priests serving in the diocese.
So it will be quite porous?
I think it will. There are stories we are getting already of people where the priest is saying to an ordinariate priest: “Well, I have two churches and two presbyteries: why don’t you have one of the presbyteries and one of the churches, if you don’t mind looking after that congregation as well as your own?’
Do you think that in the next two or three generations there will still be a need for an ordinariate?
I don’t know is the answer to that. I can see two equally likely eventualities. One is that this will have proved to be a very useful bridge for individual Anglicans and individual Anglican congregations to explore the future. And the bridge is permanent. The Apostolic Constitution is permanent, so it will be a bridge that can always be crossed and nobody is ever going to shut it down. So one outcome is to see it growing and growing and growing and seeing it as hugely influential. Indeed one commentator said that the Catholic Church in this country, in five years’ time, will be unrecognisable as a result. That is one possible outcome.
Another possible outcome is that, after an initial interest, this will not become the way that people do it and that just as in 1994 there was an initial flurry of interest from them, it will all quieten down again. And it may all quieten down again.
So I really don’t know and I don’t think it matters actually. I think that the important thing is that all those who should be Catholics are able to be so and, whether or not they live in an ordinariate or a diocese, who cares? Many Catholic and many Anglican laity are hardly aware of what diocese they’re in. What is important to them is their parish priest.