The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, is this weekend (September 21/22) urging Catholics in every parish of England and Wales to support and welcome the clergy and faithful of Britain’s Ordinariate for the “particular gifts they bring to the Catholic Church and the contribution they make to its life and mission”.
He makes the appeal in a letter to the Catholic faithful, in which he also speaks of the beauty of the Anglican heritage in which members of the Ordinariate – former Anglicans, now in full communion with the Catholic Church – were nurtured.
The Archbishop’s letter has been sent out by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, along with one from Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, as part of an initiative to present afresh the contribution which the Ordinariate is making to the life of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and deepen understanding of it within the wider Catholic community.
Parish priests have been requested, where possible, to read out Mgr Newton’s letter to congregations or make it available in the back of their churches this weekend, to coincide with the closest Sunday to the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Mgr Newton’s letter explains how the Ordinariate came about, what it does and how it is organised. It also lists some of the aspects of Anglican patrimony which have been remarked on by people attending Ordinariate Masses. “People have spoken positively about the conviction of our preaching, our strong musical tradition and hymn singing, our pastoral outreach and the welcoming nature of our gatherings afterwards” Mgr Newton says. “This puts us in a strong position to play a full part, with the whole Church, in the urgent task of the New Evangelisation”.
The Ordinary concludes his letter by underlining the Ordinariate’s significance as a step towards the ultimate goal of Christian unity. “The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has begun in a small way”, he says, “but it is a concrete expression of the Church’s desire to fulfil our Lord’s command that ‘they may all be one.”
The initiative to increase awareness and understanding of the Ordinariate is organised by the Friends of the Ordinariate charity, which was set up by lay Catholics to support the work of the Ordinariate.