Unity Without Losing Identity: Archbishop Longley welcomes Mgr Newton to Birmingham

ab44aaDuring a visit to St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham, on the weekend of 4th/5th October, Mgr Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, said that the Ordinariate provides an ecumenical “model for the universal Church”.

Mgr Newton had been invited to preach at all the weekend Masses at St Chad’s Cathedral by the Most Revd Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham. The visit also formed part of a wider Friends of the Ordinariate appeal and awareness raising campaign.

Archbishop Longley, who was the principal celebrant at the 11.00am Solemn Mass on Sunday, used the occasion to welcome Mgr Newton to his Cathedral and Archdiocese. Mgr Newton concelebrated and also preached at the Archbishop’s Mass. Other concelebrants included Canon Gerry Breen, the Cathedral Dean, and Fr Dominic Cosslett, Archbishop Longley’s private secretary.

At the beginning of his homily, Mgr Newton thanked the Archbishop, Canon Breen and Fr Cosslett for their warm hospitality over the weekend, as well as for the original invitation to visit St Chad’s.

Referring to the Gospel reading for the day, the Ordinary of the Ordinariate went on to use the image of the vine to discuss the Church. He said that Christians “are so familiar with St Paul’s image of the Church as a body, that we’re in danger of forgetting the other beautiful image of the Church – that of the vine. It is an image that has been given by Our Lord himself.”

Mgr Newton continued by saying that people sometimes approach him asking, “what’s so special about the Ordinariate; why not join the Church directly; why be separate from the rest of us?” Answering these points, he said that the Catholic Church is like a vine, which has “many branches of different shapes and sizes … Such as the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the Melkites, and the Maronites”. “Sadly,” he continued, “throughout Christian history some parts of the vine have broken off.” “In the Ordinariate”, he said, “one small part of the western Church has been grafted back onto the vine.” This has resulted, according to Mgr Newton, in “unity without losing identity.”

Mgr Newton called the Ordinariate “a prototype” and “model” for Church unity, which is why , he said, “Benedict XVI called it prophetic.” As a result, the Ordinariate “has immense implications for ecumenism.”

ab20aaDuring his time at St Chad’s, Mgr Newton was accompanied by members of the Friends of the Ordinariate, who were hand on to answer questions and distribute literature on the Ordinariate to those wanting to know more about this structure for former Anglicans.

Speaking afterwards, Dylan Parry of the Friends of the Ordinariate said, “We are very grateful to Archbishop Longley and Canon Breen for inviting us to Birmingham and for their generous hospitality. We would also like to especially thank Fr Dominic Cosslett and the staff and volunteers at the Cathedral for their kindness hard work in helping the Friends.”

A second collection for the work of the Friends was taken at all Masses.

More photos may be viewed here: Flickr