Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, has spoken of his sadness at the news of Pope Benedict’s impending resignation, describing him as “in a particular way, a shepherd and Father” to members of the Ordinariate, who would forever hold a place for him in their hearts.
“Those of us in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham have particular reason to thank God for his pontificate as he opened the way for Anglicans to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church through his Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus”, Mgr Newton said.
The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established in 2011, allows Anglicans leaving the Church of England to convert to Catholicism while retaining much of their spiritual, liturgical and pastoral tradition. It has been described by one senior Vatican Cardinal as “the Pope’s project”.
News of the Holy Father’s decision to stand down came as Monsignor Newton had just completed a weekend visit to the famous Catholic church, the Oratory, in Kensington, where he was invited to appeal for funds for the Ordinariate, which now has 81 former Anglican priests and some 1500 lay members.
During his sermon, Mgr Newton quoted Pope Benedict as describing the Ordinariate as “a prophetic gesture”. He said the Pope meant by this that as well as being “the result of much Anglican Catholic dialogue over the last 50 years, it was also an expression of the ultimate goal of Christian unity”.
It was obedience to the Lord’s call that the Church should be one – rather than, as has been widely reported, the issue of the ordination of women – which had been the main reason for Anglicans to leave the Church of England and join the Ordinariate , Mgr Newton said.
As well as preaching at all eight Masses over the weekend to the Oratory’s total estimated congregation of 2,500, the Ordinary also presided at the church’s procession in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes and at Benediction after Vespers on Sunday.
The visit was arranged by the Friends of the Ordinariate charity, which helps to raise funds for and awareness of, the Ordinariate. The retiring collections raised about £4,000.
The Provost of the Oratory, Fr Julian Large, said: “The Fathers of the London Oratory were delighted to welcome Mgr Keith Newton to our house and parish. The Ordinariate is a great gift from Pope Benedict to the life and unity of the Church”.