A Question of Authority – Mgr Newton visits St George’s Cathedral, Southwark

Fr Philip Smith, Acting Dean (left), with Mgr Keith Newton (right)

Fr Philip Smith, Acting Dean (left), with Mgr Keith Newton (right)

On the weekend of 31st January / 1st February 2015, Mgr Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, visited St George’s Cathedral, Southwark. This visit formed part of a series of Cathedral appeals, organised by the Friends of the Ordinariate, which are designed to raise awareness of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham as well as funds for the work of the Friends.

Mgr Newton was invited to the Cathedral by the Archbishop of Southwark, The Most Revd Peter Smith, and Canon John O’Toole, the former Cathedral Dean. As Canon O’Toole was recently appointed the National Ecumenical Officer for the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, the Acting Dean, Fr Philip Smith, welcomed Mgr Newton and the Friends to the Cathedral.

During his homily, Mgr Newton reflected on the Gospel (Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B), highlighting that “Jesus spoke with such authority that even the evil spirits obeyed him.” The Ordinary said: “As Christians, Jesus must have authority over our lives.” This authority of Jesus, he added, may be found in “the Scriptures… and the teachings of the Church.”

Mgr Newton continued by saying that the media often portrays the Ordinariate as a structure for those who had problems with “the ordination of women”, but “the questions we were actually asking were more important”. These were questions of “authority” and “unity”. He continued that for “those who were Anglicans, the question of authority was an important one, [because]… one clergyman would be teaching one thing, and another clergyman, down the road, would be teaching something else.” Thanks to Pope St John Paul II, who gave us the gift of the new Catechism, the Catholic Church is clear and authoritative in its teaching.

Mgr Newton asked, “Do we give the Gospel and the teaching of the Church authority over our lives?” It was in response to the “challenge” of this authority, he said, that members of the Ordinariate chose to enter “into the full communion of the Catholic Church”.

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Mgr Newton preaching at the 11.30am Solemn Mass

The Ordinary also highlighted the place of the Ordinariate within the wider Church, as well as the structure’s ecumenical purpose. He said that there are 11 Ordinariate priests, with seven congregations, in the Archdiocese of Southwark. “Five of these priests look after parishes,” he added, “including the Precious Blood, Borough” — a neighbouring parish. The Church of the Precious Blood, added Mgr Newton, “was given into the care of the Ordinariate” by Archbishop Smith.

During his homily, Mgr Newton also thanked the Archbishop and the Cathedral authorities for inviting him to St George’s Cathedral.

Speaking after the event, Dylan Parry, who works for the Friends of the Ordinariate, said: “We are very grateful to Archbishop Smith and Canon O’Toole for inviting us to St George’s Cathedral. We’re also especially grateful to Fr Philip Smith and the Cathedral clergy for receiving us in a most hospitable and welcoming way. The Friends would also like to thank Mgr Newton for making the appeal on our behalf, as well as the parishioners and worshippers at St George’s. whose generosity is much appreciated.”

More photos: Flickr