Cardinal Nichols: “Find that balance between distinctiveness and identity.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols has expressed his hope that the vision of Benedict XVI in establishing the personal ordinariates for former Anglicans will “continue to flourish.” He also asked the personal ordinariates to persevere in “[finding] that balance between distinctiveness and identity.”
His comments were made on Sunday 8 February, during a reception held after Solemn Evensong and Benediction at the church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street (London, W1). Organised by the Friends of the Ordinariate, the evening marked the start of a week-long visit to the UK by Mgr Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter (US and Canada), and Mgr Harry Entwistle, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross (Australia).
Replying to words of welcome offered by Mgr Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the Cardinal expressed his delight at being present at the evening. He joked that on the way to the event, he’d asked his private secretary if “by attending Evensong, he wouldn’t have to say either Evening Prayer or Compline?” He continued: “Come to the Ordinariate and get two for one!” Referring to the liturgy, the Cardinal also described “how neatly, how hand in glove, the celebration of Evensong fits into my Catholic experience.”
The Cardinal spoke of the work that went into the establishing of the ordinariates for former Anglicans, highlighting “the remarkable day in Westminster Cathedral when the first ordinariate in the world was erected [in 2011].” He continued: “It’s lovely to see the representatives from Australia and the US, where the same development is taking place.”
Describing the Ordinariate, Cardinal Nichols said: “[It] is something of a balancing act, between, on the one hand, showing the deep desire of Pope Benedict to appreciate the distinctiveness of many aspects of the Anglican patrimony, which are consistent and expressive of Catholic faith, and yet, on the other hand, to show how it is very much an organic part of the visible Catholic [Church] centred around the Holy Father.” He went on to say that it was important to: “Find that balance between distinctiveness and identity.”
The Cardinal added: “It is only gradually, and with great openness on the part of all of us, that we will see the fulfilment of this enrichment that Pope Benedict desired.” Cardinal Nichols continued: “For me this [evening] is a very lovely moment, which sees another step in a process in which I have been involved for a very long time and I hope that, both here and in Australia and the United States [and Canada]… the insight and foresight of Pope Benedict will flourish.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols also said that the question must be asked: “How do we continue properly to engage in an open and very constructive dialogue and search [for unity] with the Church of England and the Anglican Communion as it is today?”
Guests of honour
Other guests of honour at the event included the Rt Revd Hlib Lonchyna, Eparch of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London, the Rt Revd Alan Williams, Bishop of Brentwood, Mgr Vincent Brady, representing the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, and Mgr John Armitage, the newly appointed Rector of the National Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Evensong was led by Fr Mark Elliott Smith, the parish priest of the Ordinariate’s central church, and the preacher was Mgr Harry Entwistle. The readers were Mgr Keith Newton’s wife, Gill, and Nicolas Ollivant, Chairman of the Friends of the Ordinariate. Mgr Newton gave Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
The acclaimed choir of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory’s, under the direction of Keith Brown, provided music, including Charles Wood’s Hail, gladdening Light!, William Mathias’ Let the people praise thee, O God and Edward Elgar’s O salutaris hostia.
Mgr Entwistle’s sermon
During his sermon, Mgr Entwistle spoke of his “delight [at being able] to bring you greetings from the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross.” An equal delight, Mgr Entwistle said, was that “Evensong and Benediction remains an important part of the devotional life of the Ordinariate”, because when linked together they emphasise that in “English spirituality the liturgy is both Word and Sacrament.”
After speaking of the presence of Christ within scripture and in the sacraments, Mgr Entwistle meditated upon: “[the] fractured ecclesial body of Christ, borne out of the wounds of Christ, yet called to be the visible sacramental sign of his presence in, and lordship over, the world.” He continued: “The Church, as well as individual members and disciples within her, has been called, blessed and broken, so that Christ’s mission of showing the world who God is may continue. Of course, that mission is hampered by the disunity of God’s faithful.” Referring to the need to work and pray for Christian unity, he quoted St Peter of Cluny: “Diversity in unity is the principle of Christendom.”
Later in his sermon, Mgr Entwistle spoke of the link between the sacramental presence of Christ and “the settled truths of the Christian faith.” “The pastoral application of these truths… must be pastoral and compassionate”, he said. Mgr Entwistle continued: “[This pastoral application] must not be at the expense of the truth of the faith.” He added: “Those of us in the Ordinariate who have lived through such a progressive disconnection in our previous communion are only too aware of where it leads.” This awareness of what happens when the truths of the Christian faith are diluted, “thrusts [the ordinariates] into a prophetic role in the Catholic Church,” he said.
To read the sermon in full, please click here.
Solemn Mass in the Ordinariate Use
Earlier the same day, Mgr Keith Newton was the principal celebrant at the 10.30am Solemn Mass in the Ordinariate Use at the same church. The Mass was concelebrated by his colleagues, Mgr Steenson and Mgr Entwistle.
During the Mass, Mgr Newton welcomed the other two ordinaries, saying: “I would like to extend a very warm welcome to our two distinguished guests.” He added that their visit would “provide an opportunity for us to hold some discussions together on [the] common interests and challenges” currently facing the leaders of the three personal ordinariates for former Anglicans.
As part of the visit to the UK of the North American and Australian ordinaries, Mgr Keith Newton will be the principal celebrant at Solemn Mass at Westminster Cathedral on Thursday 12 February at 5.30pm. He will be joined by Mgr Jeffrey Steenson and Mgr Harry Entwistle. The Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, H.E. Archbishop Antonio Mennini, will also be present.
For more details of events surrounding the visit of the ordinaries from the US and Australia to the UK, please see the Ordinariate website.
More photos available here.
This story was updated on Tuesday 10 February.