More from Cardinal Nichols’ homily on 9th November 2019 at the Church of the Most Precious Blood, Borough

Today we mark a pathway of discipleship and of visible communion which strives to integrate into this fullness of communion, in both spiritual and theological terms, gifts which have their source in the graceful life of the Anglican communion. We are grateful for this, especially as people of England where many of these gifts have been fashioned.

The Personal Ordinariates are often described as expressions of realised ecumenism: a fragment, an indication, a pointer to how fullness of communion can be found in a journey of reciprocal exchange of gifts. For this to be achieved, it is crucial that the communities of these Personal Ordinariates do not live in a space of isolation but are at ease, and welcomed, in the full communion of which they have become part. Members of the Ordinariate are Catholics of the Latin Rite within the full communion of the Catholic Church. This is no ‘half-way house’ as some might be inclined to think.

Writing in 2015, Mgr Mark Langham spelt out some of the strengths which are given and received within this communion and for its mission. There is a certainty about the gifts of the sacraments, their shape and effectiveness. There is the solidity of the communion, which is never to be impaired or partial. There is, nevertheless, a diversity on which the communion can thrive, a coming together of traditions and customs.

He makes strong play of this last point: the championing of elements of the traditions of Anglicanism that can re-introduce Catholics in this country to their own deeper Catholic heritage. In this he was thinking of the sources of Medieval English Catholicism: St Richard Rolle, Julian of Norwich, St Edith of Wilton, St Wilfred, St Frideswide, virtually unknown to modern English Catholics, like myself, but coming again to the fore in the prayer and life of the Ordinariate. To these, too, can be added so much of the English Anglican Divines, Lancelot Andrews, Thomas Traherne and John Keble. This stream has also given to us all the great new Saint of our land, St John Henry Newman, your own patron, the joy of whose canonisation resounds throughout the Christian life of the world.