THE Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, has said that it will be a “privilege” to ordain three former Anglican bishops as priests in the Roman Catholic Church tomorrow.
They will be the first priests in the Ordinariate, which, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said this week, would be established “on or before” the same day by a decree published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.
The former Bishop of Fulham, John Broadhurst; the former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Andrew Burnham; and the former Bishop of Richborough, Keith Newton, will undergo a rite of priestly ordination at Westminster Cathedral, after a service to ordain them deacons at Allen Hall Seminary Chapel yesterday. They were received in Westminster Cathedral on New Year’s Day.
In a statement on Tuesday, Archbishop Nichols offered the trio a “warm welcome”, and recognised “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,” he said.
Archbishop Nichols expressed gratitude “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”.
The Bishops’ Conference released further details of the Ordinariate this week.
It said the Ordinariate would “be a specific ecclesiastical jurisdiction which is similar to a diocese and will be led by its own ‘Ordinary’ . . . who will be a bishop or priest”, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. The Ordinary would have “similar authority and responsibilities . . . to a diocesan bishop” and would be an ex-officio member of the Bishops’ Conference.
The Ordinary would preside over a Governing Council “of at least six priests”, which would have “the same rights in Canon Law that the College of Consultors and the Council of Priests have in the governance of a diocese”.
One key difference, however, would be that, “out of respect for the synodal tradition of Anglicanism”, the Ordinary would, unlike a diocesan bishop, need his council’s consent to “admit a candidate to Holy Orders; erect or suppress a personal parish; erect or suppress a house of formation; [or] approve a program of formation”.
Ordinariate congregations would be allowed to use RC liturgy and “some of the liturgical rites of the Anglican tradition which have been adapted and approved by the Holy See”.
The statement also reiterated Archbishop Nichols’s assertion late last year that the RC Church did not expect Ordinariate congregations to worship in C of E buildings (News, 19 November). “In most cases . . . Ordinariate congregations will probably use their local diocesan Catholic church for the celebration of Mass and other liturgies. In some places there may be a diocesan church which is no longer needed to serve the needs of the local parish community; these could prove suitable for use by the Ordinariate.”
The Ordinariate would, like any diocese, be expected to support its clergy financially through Sunday collections. A fund had also been established, into which the Bishops had put £250,000, “to enable the Ordinariate to begin its work”; and charities were being asked to assist.