Damian Thompson writes:


The Ordinariate has finally arrived

Here's a photo, taken by Lorna Muffat for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, that shows Mgr Keith Newton celebrating Easter Sunday Mass in the organisation's magnificent new London home, Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street. And here's Mgr Newton with the priests and servers:
There's plenty of scepticism about the Ordinariate – especially since the careful circulation of a quote attributed to former Cardinal Bergoglio saying he didn't see the need for it. Well, we shall see. Pope Francis – who would never have encountered Anglicans in the Catholic tradition in Latin America – now finds himself head of the Ordinariate in three continents; his spokesman has said that this will be a permanentstructure of the Catholic Church.
Will it be? That's up to the Ordinariate. Its leader in this country, Mgr Newton, has the jurisdiction if not the sacramental powers of a bishop – hence the mitre. The Warwick Street congregation is still small – the group didn't move into the church until Palm Sunday (and hasn't yet started using its own liturgy).
But there's an energy and sense of imagination here that promises great things. Essentially, the Ordinariate finds itself in the same position as most of the great orders and religious communities of the Church in their early days. There are powerful prelates – Catholic and Anglican – who would prefer to rid themselves of this inconvenience; even now, I'm sure that one of the old guard ecumenists is trying to grab an audience with Pope Francis in order to strangle his predecessor's initiative at birth. Well, Churches are like that: Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican – they're all run by hierarchies resistant to change. The challenge for the Ordinariate is to move swiftly to establish an evangelical presence wherever it operates, one inspired not just by Benedict XVI's liturgical vision but also by the practical spirituality of Pope Francis.
Put it this way: one of the treasures of Anglicanism that the Ordinariate can bring to Rome has nothing to do with vestments or prayer books – it's the tradition of the Anglo-Catholic "slum priests" who carried the Gospel to the darkest alleyways of Jack the Ripper's London. If that can be revived for the 21st century, then, like new movements before them, the Ordinariate will become part of the fabric of the church. But first comes perhaps the most difficult part of all: blocking its ears to the carping and sneers of its critics.

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