Three former Anglican Bishops, John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton, were ordained to the Catholic priesthood by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, at Westminster Cathedral this morning.
The Cathedral was full to capacity for the two and a quarter hour service with Catholic and Anglican worshippers and clergy from around the country present to witness the historic ceremony. More than 80 priests and six bishops concelebrated the Mass. The Offertory was brought up to the altar steps by three former Anglican nuns who were part of the group received into the Catholic Church on New Year's Day. Tne three bishops' wives came onto the sanctuary to assist in the vesting ceremony.
A message from the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, His Eminence Cardinal William Levada was read out at the start of the Mass,(see below) establishing the first Personal Ordinariate, to be known as 'The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham'. Fr Keith Newton was announced as the first Ordinary.
During his homily Archbishop Vincent Nichols said: "Many ordinations have taken place in this Cathedral during the 100 years of its history. But none quite like this. Today is a unique occasion marking a new step in the life and history of the Catholic Church. This morning the establishment of the first Personal Ordinariate under the provision of the Apostolic Constitution 'Anglicanorum Coetibus' has been announced in our hearing. So I too salute John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton who are to be the first priests of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. In particular I offer my prayers and best wishes to Keith, chosen by the Holy Father to be its first Ordinary. This is indeed an historic moment."
An audio file of the homily can be found at: www.rcdow.org.uk/multimedia/?page=audio&player=181
After the ordinations and at again at the end of the Mass, the congregation burst into spontaneous applause.
Brother Miguel, a Herald of the Gospel brother from Teddington said: "We need to make them feel welcome - to say welcome home to them. This is a wonderful day."
Robert Tickle, an Anglican RE teacher from Bedfordshire, who is now considering becoming a Catholic, said: "I've got great hope for this. Its what many Anglicans have been praying for for years. The Church of England has lurched too far towards liberalism. This fulfills what the Oxford movement was all about. With its appeal to tradition, faith and scripture - its no wonder Pope Benedict is a fan of Newman's teaching."
Catholics Bridget Smith, Val Hawes and Mary Gillick from St Theresa's in Rochford, Kent, who are closely linked to their local Anglican parish, several of whose members have converted, said: "This is the Holy Spirit at work. A wonderful day."
Anglican Sandra Modric, said: "I think this is amazing and long overdue. I only hope it doesn't just settle down now. We need healing." Sandra was member of one CoE church but has now left and has now joined another church over the issue of women clergy. She said: "The trouble is, many Christians don't really understand what scripture teaches on this. The fact is Jesus did not make women his disciples, only men. A man can represent Jesus on the altar and he can also represent a woman in the congregation, of Mother Church. But a woman cannot represent a man on the altar. Its just not possible."
Catholic Maureen O'Rourke, from Finsbury Park, north London (who didn't know about the service but had dropped in to light a candle, and stayed for the Mass) said: "Of course I welcome them all wholeheartedly but I don't understand why they can't just join our parishes. We could learn from each other. Why be separate? Also it must be difficult for young Catholic priests who might like to marry and can't. I know one young Anglican priest who told me he wants to convert, but he is going to wait until after he has got married."
Text: today's homily by Archbishop Vincent Nichols
Many ordinations have taken place in this Cathedral during the 100 years of its history. But none quite like this. Today is a unique occasion marking a new step in the life and history of the Catholic Church. This morning the establishment of the first Personal Ordinariate under the provision of the Apostolic Constitution ‘Anglicanorum Coetibus’ has been announced in our hearing. So I too salute John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton who are to be the first priests of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. In particular I offer my prayers and best wishes to Keith, chosen by the Holy Father to be its first Ordinary. This is indeed an historic moment.
In these opening words I welcome you warmly, Keith, Andrew and John. You have distinguished pasts, full of real achievements. Now, ahead of you, you have an important and demanding future! In welcoming you I recognise fully the demands of the journey you have made together with your families, with its many years of thought and prayer, painful misunderstandings, conflict and uncertainty. I want, in particular, to recognise your dedication as priests and bishops of the Church of England and affirm the fruitfulness of your ministry.
I thank so many in the Church of England who have recognised your sincerity and integrity in making this journey and who have assured you of their prayers and good wishes. First among these is Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury, with his characteristic insight, and generosity of heart and spirit.
This journey, of course, involves some sad parting of friends. This, too, we recognise and it strengthens the warmth of our welcome.
John Henry Newman
Of course it was John Henry Newman who spoke movingly of this ‘sad parting of friends’. We thank our Holy Father Pope Benedict for not only placing this Ordinariate under the protection of Our Lady of Walsingham but also for giving it Blessed John Henry Newman as its patron.
At Lambeth Palace, in September, Pope Benedict said: ‘In the figure of John Henry Newman we celebrate a churchman whose ecclesial vision was nurtured by his Anglican background and matured during his many years of ordained ministry in the Church of England. He can teach us the virtues that ecumenism demands: on the one hand, he was moved to follow his conscience, even at great personal cost; and on the other hand, the warmth of his continued friendship with his former colleagues led him to explore with them, in a truly eirenical spirit, the questions on which they differed, driven by a deep longing for unity in faith.’ (Lambeth Palace, 18 September 2010)
Then, speaking in Rome on 20 December, Pope Benedict reflected further on Cardinal Newman. He spoke these words. They are of relevance and hope for today:
‘The path of Newman’s conversions is a path of conscience – not a path of self-asserting subjectivity but, on the contrary, a path of obedience to the truth that was gradually opening up to him. His third conversion, to Catholicism, required him to give up almost everything that was dear and precious to him: possessions, profession, academic rank, family ties and many friends. The sacrifice demanded of him by obedience to the truth, by his conscience, went further still. Newman had always been aware of having a mission for England. But in the Catholic theology of his time, his voice could hardly make itself heard.... In January 1863 he wrote in his diary these distressing words: “As a Protestant, I felt my religion dreary, but not my life - but, as a Catholic, my life dreary, not my religion”. He had not yet arrived at the hour when he would be an influential figure. In the humility and darkness of obedience, he had to wait until his message was taken up and understood. In support of the claim that Newman’s concept of conscience matched the modern subjective understanding, people often quote a letter in which he said – should he have to propose a toast – that he would drink first to conscience and then to the Pope. But in this statement, “conscience” does not signify the ultimately binding quality of subjective intuition. It is an expression of the accessibility and the binding force of truth: on this its primacy is based. The second toast can be dedicated to the Pope because it is his task to demand obedience to the truth.’ (December 20, 2010)
'A prophetic gesture'
Today we thank the Holy Father for the courageous leadership he gives in establishing the first Personal Ordinariate. His intentions are clear. It is, as he has said, ‘a prophetic gesture’. It is to contribute to the wider goal of visible unity between our two Churches by helping us to know in practice how our patrimonies of faith and living can strengthen each other in our mission today. At Oscott College, the Holy Father said to us bishops: ‘It (the Ordinariate) helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all.’
The visible unity of the Church, then, is central to our thoughts today. Indeed, it was never far from the heart of St Paul as is well expressed in his Letter to the Ephesians and, a little earlier, to the Philippians. His appeal is steadfast: that believing in Christ as Lord, that sharing in one Spirit, that worship of one God and Father create a unity which must be constantly served by the practice of humility, gentleness, patience and love. In Philippians he is more explicit about the attitudes and behaviours that threaten this unity: selfish ambition for the power of office; the search for personal approval or prestige; a focus on the importance of self within a competitive spirit, all taking us away from ‘the mind of Christ Jesus’. (cf Phil 2.1-5).
History shows how right he is. These patterns of failure mark our histories. They also find expression in the lives of each of us today. So we ask pardon for our failings and seek to renew within ourselves that mind of Christ Jesus himself.
The quest for unity
The quest for the visible unity of the Church remains an imperative. In it the role of the successor of St Peter is crucial. Pope Benedict expressed it thus in Westminster Abbey: ‘Fidelity to the word of God, precisely because it is a true word, demands of us an obedience which leads us together to a deeper understanding of the Lord’s will, an obedience which must be free of intellectual conformism or facile accommodation to the spirit of the age. This is the word of encouragement which I wish to leave with you this evening, and I do so in fidelity to my ministry as the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Saint Peter, charged with a particular care for the unity of Christ’s flock.’ (Westminster Abbey, 18 Sept 2010)
The Pope’s ministry to the visible unity of the Church is central to the faith of the Catholic Church. It is central to the faith of those who enter into full communion in this Ordinariate. It is central to the welcome, encouragement and support the Catholic community in England and Wales gives to this development and to all who seek to be part of it.
In his Letter to the Ephesians, St Paul speaks about the variety of gifts given to the community of believers. While recognising that variety, in this Mass we focus, in particular, on the gift of the ordained priesthood within the Catholic Church. It is a priesthood which takes it shape, its purpose, its experience from the Cross of Christ, the great cross above us, referred to so movingly by Pope Benedict. Through this ordained priesthood, the one, same sacrifice of Christ is made real at the altar and offered again to the Eternal Father. It is made present as the sacrament of our salvation. This Mass, every Mass, is at once the prayer of Christ and the prayer of the Body of Christ, his people. Through it Christ constitutes the Church afresh each day, both in Himself and in its visible unity, in the world. This is the work of the ordained priest – the daily constituting of the Church - and it is a priceless gift and service for which we thank God constantly. To this one sacrifice we bring our own small sacrifices, the losses and hardships we carry through failure and sin, through the pursuit of truth and love, through the passing of time. All is offered to the Father in one sacrifice of praise to become a means of our salvation.
In today’s Gospel passage from St. John, we have heard again of the appearance of the Risen Christ to his disciples. At that moment he brought to them the fruits of his triumph over death: the forgiveness of sins and the gift of peace. Here too we come to the work of the ordained priest: to pronounce with confidence the forgiveness of God and to bring peace to a troubled soul and a troubled world.
To this service, to this ministry we welcome our three priests today.
But we must be attentive to the words of the Gospel. In bestowing these gifts, the Risen Lord also employs an eloquent gesture: he shows them his hands and his side. He shows them his wounds. The mission they receive, the mission of reconciliation, comes from the wounds of Christ. This is the mission we share and at every Mass we once again gaze on the wounded, broken body of the risen Lord. Our mission is characterised by woundedness: a mission to a wounded world; a mission entrusted to a wounded Church, carried out by wounded disciples. The wounds of sin are our business. The wounds of Christ, even though we have caused them, are also our consolation and strength.
The first to witness these wounds, the first, perhaps, to grasp their true significance, was Mary, Mother of Jesus. Standing at the foot of the cross she witnessed the inflicting of those wounds. Holding his dead body she must have been marked by the blood shed from them. Now she looks down on our new priests from the other side of this Cathedral crucifix above me. Mary always holds before us her Son, presenting him to us as our hope and salvation. Nowhere does she do so with more grace and elegance than in the image of Our Lady of Walsingham. As this Ordinariate, her Ordinariate, comes into being so may we entrust to her the work of bringing it to fulfilment.
Our Lady of Walsingham: pray for us.
Blessed John Henry Newman: pray for us.
Message from Cardinal Levada
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Ordination to the Priesthood of our three friends, Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton, is an occasion of great joy both for them and for the wider Church. I had very much wished to be present with you in Westminster Cathedral today in order to demonstrate my own personal support for them as they make this important step. Unfortunately, however, a long standing commitment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to meet with the Bishops and theologians of India in Bangalore has meant that I am unable to be in London today. I am very happy, therefore, to have the opportunity of sending this message and am grateful to Archbishop Nichols for agreeing to represent me and for his willingness to deliver my best wishes.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has today published a Decree erecting the first Personal Ordinariate for groups of Anglican faithful and their pastors wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. This new Ordinariate, established within the territory of England and Wales, will be known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and will be placed under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman. Its establishment, which marks a unique and historic moment in the life of the Catholic Community in this country, is the first fruit of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, issued by Pope Benedict XVI on 4 November 2009. It is my fervent hope that, by enabling what the Holy Father calls “a mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies”, the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham will bring great blessings not only on those directly involved in it, but upon the whole Church.
Also today the Holy Father has nominated Reverend Keith Newton as the first Ordinary of this Personal Ordinanate. Together with Reverend Burnham and Reverend Broadhurst, Keith Newton will oversee the catechetical preparation of the first groups of Anglicans in England and Wales who will be received into the Catholic Church together with their pastors at Easter, and will accompany the clergy preparing for ordination to the Catholic priesthood around Pentecost. I urge you all to assist the new Ordinary in the unique mission which has been entrusted to him not only with your prayers but also with every practical support.
In conclusion, I offer my personal and heartfelt best wishes to these three Catholic priests. I pray that God will abundantly bless them, and also those other clergy and faithful who are preparing to join them in full communion with the Catholic Church. In the midst of the uncertainty that every period of transition inevitably brings I wish to assure you all of our admiration for you, and of our prayerful solidarity.
At an audience granted to me by Pope Benedict XVI on 14 January 2001, His Holiness asked me to convey to you that he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing upon the ordinandi Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton, together with their wives and family members and upon all other participants in this solemn rite.
Entrusting you confidently to the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham, and to the intercession of the great saints and martyrs of England and Wales,
Yours sincerely in Christ,
William Cardinal Levada
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
15 January 2011
His Eminence Cardinal William Levada
Westminster Cathedral, 15 January 2011
See also: CVs of new Personal Ordinariate priests www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=17465
Source: Archbishops House/ICN