Visit to Norwich: Ordinariate makes real the initial hopes of ARCIC
During a visit to St John’s Catholic Cathedral, Norwich, on the weekend of 25/26 October, Mgr Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, spoke about “the unity of believers” which “is at the heart of what the Church is.”
Preaching at all the Sunday Masses as part of a Friends of the Ordinariate appeal at the invitation of the Bishop of East Anglia, the Rt Revd Alan Hopes, and Dean of the Cathedral, Fr David Paul, Mgr Newton highlighted the extraordinary ecumenical implications that have resulted from the establishing of the Ordinariate.
After discussing the nature of the Church and emphasising the Catholic belief that it “is both a mystery but also a reality in time and space … Both visible and spiritual”, Mgr Newton spoke of the ecumenical desire for a visible and real Christian unity which had been expressed by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council – a Council that also “made it clear that the one Church of Christ is made visibly realised in the Catholic Church.”
“In 1966,” he continued, “the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, met Blessed Paul VI … [and] together they initiated the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission [ARCIC].” The work of this commission, which continues to meet, was “based on the hope that it is possible to be united without being absorbed.” “Sadly”, continued Mgr Newton, such unity seems “no longer possible due to the ordination of women and divergent attitudes on moral questions” between the Church of England and the Catholic Church. Therefore, he said, “it was in pursuit of unity of the Church that Pope Benedict XVI published the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus.” This constitution ensures that Anglicans wishing to be in communion with the See of Peter can do so while also holding onto their liturgical and pastoral traditions, as the early work of ARCIC had intended – a unity “without being absorbed … Like sugar dissolved in water.” “In a small way,” the Ordinary continued, “the Ordinariate is living out the idea of being united without being absorbed.” Thus, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham can be said to be a real fruit of the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio – published fifty years next month. It is also for this reason, according to Mgr Newton, that Benedict XVI is often referred to as “the pope of Christian unity.”
Mgr Newton was accompanied to Norwich by Dylan Parry of the Friends of the Ordinariate, who is also a former parishioner of St John’s. After the visit, he commented: “During his homily, Mgr Newton thanked Bishop Hopes and Fr David Paul for inviting him to preach at St John’s Cathedral, Norwich, and I would like to echo his words. I would also like to thank the parishioners of St John’s for their generous contribution to the work of the Friends, made during a second collection. Finally, I would like to thank Mgr Newton himself for his homily, which so clearly defined the ecumenical nature of the Ordinariate – a profoundly prophetic gift given to the universal Church by Benedict XVI.”