Ordinariates are meant to evangelize, witness to unity, says Dominican scholar

  • March 18, 2011
The Anglicanorum coetibus Conference hosted by Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins.OTTAWA - The headline speaker at an historic conference March 24-26 in Mississauga, Ont., hopes Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans will flourish in the Catholic Church through an emphasis on mission and unity.

But Fr. Aidan Nichols, a Dominican priest and scholar who is an expert on Anglican Church history and patrimony, would have preferred the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus had gone further than the Personal Ordinariate structure it calls for and instead created “the Western equivalent of a Catholic Eastern Church.”

“That would have been my preferred option, chiefly because it would be better able to resist assimilation to the parishes of the Latin dioceses,” he said in an e-mail interview. “But if the ecclesial arrangement offered enables the 'patrimony' to be transmitted, that is the main thing.”

He said the Ordinariates “are meant to grow by evangelizing, using their distinctive resources as means, and they are meant to witness to the unity which is possible between Rome and the best of the Canterbury tradition.”

Nichols is presenting three talks at the Anglicanorum coetibus Conference hosted by Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins. The archbishop will facilitate the implementation of a Personal Ordinariate in Canada under the 2009 Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus.

Anglicanorum coetibus allows married Catholic priests to be appointed the Ordinary of a Personal Ordinariate. The first Ordinary of the first such structure in the world, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and Wales, is a married former Church of England bishop, Fr. Keith Newton, who with two other former bishops was ordained a Catholic priest in January.

The conference at the Queen of the Apostles Retreat Centre has attracted almost 150 participants from both the Anglican Communion and the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, a church of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

Another keynote speaker is Fr. Christopher Phillips, who founded the first Anglican Use parish in the United States under Pope John Paul II’s Pastoral Provision that allowed former Anglican priests to become Catholic priests and retain an Anglican-style liturgy. In 1983, Phillips began with 18 former Anglicans, but his parish has grown to include more than 500 families and a school with more than 500 children.

“The very nature of an Ordinariate — its initially small size, and its singleness of purpose — means that we need to lay the groundwork for a close-knit family in Christ,” said Phillips in an e-mail. “It’s my hope that we’ll begin to achieve this at the upcoming meeting.”

Phillips, a pioneer in maintaining the Anglican patrimony within the Roman Catholic Church, held the first of a series of “Becoming One” conferences in November 2010. Since then, similar conferences have taken place elsewhere in the United States and Australia.

“As I've travelled to so many places throughout the United States, speaking to groups of Anglicans about Anglicanorum coetibus, I've found one of the most important purposes of these gatherings is simply to help individuals, who come from many different situations and backgrounds, just to get to know one another, and to realize that we all have a ‘common story,’ as we follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit, urging us toward that unity for which our Lord prayed,” Phillips said.

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