Anglo-Catholics gather to pray over Pope’s offer

holics gather to pray over Pope’s offer
Posted by David Virtue on 2010/2/27 8:20:00 (1450 reads)


by Bill Bowder
http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=90053
February 25, 2010

NO FORMAL response is expected from the UK to the Pope’s offer of a Personal Ordinariate to Anglican groups until after the General Synod meet ing in July, it emerged this week.

On Monday, dozens of churches, both Church of England and Roman Catholic, opened their doors for a day of prayer about the Pope’s offer. The invitation was extended last autumn to groups of Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church while pre serving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony (News, 23 October 2009).

The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Revd Andrew Burnham, had asked members of Forward in Faith, and others, to make Monday, the feast of the Chair of St Peter, “an opportun ity to reflect, pray, and discern the way forward for each of us, our priests and our parishes”. But on his website he said that the day would not be “a day of decision”.

After the General Synod post poned until its July sessions the revision stage of the legislation for women bishops, it is thought that most traditionalists will wait until after that debate before react ing to the Pope’s offer. This means that they will participate actively in elections for the new Synod, which take place during the summer.

Bishop Burnham wrote: “The Apostolic Constitution (Anglican orum Coetibus) is not a crisis point but the opening up, permanently, of a new way into unity with the See of Peter. Decisions about how and whether this should happen for each of us will take place in different ways, and at different times.”

One cleric who spent the day in his church in prayer was the Vicar of St Mark’s, Stockland Green, Bir ming ham, the Revd Stuart Powell. “The Bishop of Ebbsfleet was asking for a day of discernment. I think some people may feel they want to take advantage of the Ordinariate, and some people will decide to stay. I think that I and my people will stay,” he said on Tuesday.

“The worry is the way that the movement is being split: those who are going may not fight so hard for those who are staying. It is not just over women’s ordination; it goes much wider than that. It is the question of authority, whether the Church of England is becoming a liberal Protestant Church. It de pends on how we are treated by the diocese. I am committed to carrying on; it may not be an easy future. It all depends on the next Synod.”

In Coventry, the RC priest of the Sacred Heart parish, Fr Tony Norton, said that the day had been well attended, with both Catholics and Anglicans praying together. With regard to the Ordinariate, he said: “This is just an initial approach, and we are not quite sure how it will pan out. We are not sure if it applies to individual Anglicans or parish communities.”

The Vicar of Longford, Coventry, the Revd Paul Burch, who attended the day, said on Tuesday: “This is an ongoing process of discernment, and the day of prayer was an element in that process. These are exciting and dangerous times.”

His colleague, NSM of Ansty and Shilton, the Revd Norman Stevens, said: “I would be letting people down to make any decision at this stage. I don’t think anything is going to happen before the autumn, because there is nothing yet to commit to. We have a part of the vineyard to work on, and we don’t let people down. If we have booked someone for a wedding, you take the wedding. It may cost us, but I don’t think that the Holy Spirit is going to be very upset about that.”

A website, “Friends of the Ordin ariate”, appeared this week, inviting Anglicans in the UK to indicate their interest. It appears to have been set up by the Scottish regional dean for Forward in Faith, Canon Leonard Black, and is intended for tradition alists throughout the UK. The former Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, told an Irish journalist this month that “for the first time officially, the Roman Catholic Church at the highest level acknowledges the Anglican patri mony”. He warned, however, of the dangers of being absorbed into the RC Church.

“If the Latin bishops give the oversight, the people will become Latin.” One of the “objective criteria” that must be included in an Ordin­ariate was “the experience of An glicans themselves, that, on the one hand affirm the value of celibacy for clergy, and on the other affirm the value of married priests, who bring something quite differ ent”.

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