Ordinariate Map

It is now possible to see a Google Map of Ordinariate groups throughout the world. Just click here.

What is remarkable is that they have not even begun to put the Australian groups on yet, which will apparently include at least Anglican cleric in Japan.

Google Map of Ordinariate Groups (so far)

A salutary blast from the past – on the Ordinariate and Vatican II

A bad cold has knocked me out these last 5 days, but now some clear-headedness is returning. Two issues have been in the Catholic press (and beyond) lately have caught my attention. One is the continuing momentum of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham for Anglicans who wish to enter collectively into full communion with the Catholic Church; the other is a call by a Catholic bishop for a new syllabus of errors focused on erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council.

Professor Tina BeattieThe Ordinariate has been picking up pace, and all over England Ordinariate groups are forming in which Anglicans can discuss the implications and desirability of taking up the Holy Father’s offer to return to the Church by means of the Ordinariate. Also there has been coverage of Professor Tina Beattie’s negative remarks about the Ordinariate on Radio 4 (and her blog). Of particular interest to me were her comments on Radio 4 regarding the Ordinariate. The first were that “many of us are perplexed about what this means in terms of the Catholic Communion, and indeed obviously for relations between our two Churches” (and here she seems to make the Anglican communion into a “Church” of equal validity with the Catholic Church).

The second comments were in answer to the question “And is your objection partly to do with the fact that you don’t like what they stand for? Particularly on the question of women’s role in the Church?” Her answer is revealing:

I’m not happy about that, no. And I think actually, dare I say it, it’s a peculiarly Protestant thing to join a church because of what one doesn’t like, as a gesture of protest – that’s where the word comes from. It would be wonderful if they were coming in for the positives, and the joy, and the wonders of being part of this worldwide Communion.

To be honest, with regard to the first comments, I do not understand her perplexity. It seems quite simple: it means that a goodly number of Anglicans and their clergy will be entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. Moreover, surely their arrival will only enrich the diversity of the Catholic Church, as they bring their own traditions, or “patrimony”, of liturgical worthiness, pastoral sensitivity and biblical engagement. They will speak an idiom clearly understood by Anglicans, who may then, we pray, feel moved to explore further the path to full communion by means of this familiar idiom.

Here, one suspects, is her problem. The Ordinariate reveals clearly that for the Catholic Church ecumenism is not about ongoing “dialogue” for its own sake. It is about encouraging and convincing Christians to enter into full communion with the Church, from which they are estranged due to actions centuries ago. If it means anything regarding the relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church it is that the Church has only one goal, ultimately, for ecumenical dialogue with Anglicans: that they return to the Church. This may disturb many Anglicans, for sure, but that is no reason to stop the progress of ecumenism.

Her second comments raised the eyebrows as she describes the actions of Ordinariate Catholics as “Protestant”. How it can be Protestant to enter into Communion with the Catholic Church is beyond me! Perhaps it has something to do with her description of the Catholic Church as “a church”, as if it were equivalent to one of the multitude of Protestant denominations. That she sees the Ordinariate as merely a group of refugees protesting against women’s ordination is an unfortunate refusal to engage with these people beyond her own narrowly-defined limits. These are people who have long considered the Roman option, and baulked at its consequences. For them, women’s ordination is not the only issue, but it is something of a litmus test for the validity of the claims of the Anglican communion. The Ordinariate has removed some of the sting of leaving their long-time spiritual home. And why should they not join the Church which they know will not ordain women, not because of prejudice, but because it has no power to do so? Perhaps here is the real problem for Professor Beattie: the Ordinariate increases the majority of Catholics who do not countenance women’s ordination.

Bishop Athanasius SchneiderThe second issue in recent weeks has been the call by Bishop Athanasius Schneider for a new syllabus of errors focused on the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council. It is arguable whether a “syllabus of errors” in the style of Pope Bl. Pius IX’s original would speak to the people of today. But this is really the latest development in the ongoing debate about the Council, and whether it should be interpreted as creating a whole new vision for the Church (the “hermeneutic of rupture” with the past), or whether it is to be interpreted within the tradition of the Church (the “hermeneutic of continuity” with the past). The term “hermeneutic of continuity” became an established part of ecclesial vocabulary in the wake of Pope Benedict XVI’s address to the Roman Curia in December, 2005, when he quite clearly stated the Council, like all councils, stands within the tradition of the Church and only within that tradition can it be validly interpreted.

So it was a curious thing when I stumbled upon an address made by Pope John Paul II to a conference of bishops, theologians, historians and catechists held in Rome in 2000 on the implementation of the Council. Here we find the hermeneutic of continuity presented in everything but that exact phrase; and we also find some reflections on the Council’s teaching on the Church as communion. It is a wonderful blast from the past.

Regarding the interpretation of the Council Pope John Paul II says:

The Church has always known the rules for a correct hermeneutic of the contents of dogma. These rules are set within the fabric of faith and not outside it. To interpret the Council on the supposition that it marks a break with the past, when in reality it stands in continuity with the faith of all times, is a definite mistake.

When Pope Benedict addressed the Curia in 2005, he was not re-orienting the Church according to an approach peculiar to himself. He was picking up on the teaching set forth by his predecessor. It is itself an act that exemplifies the hermeneutic of continuity, in this case particular continuity with the pope who preceded him. It is this principle of continuity that in part explains why the ordination of women is not possible – it would be a rupture in the theology of both the eastern and western Churches.

Regarding communion Pope John Paul, in the same speech, says:

Communio is the foundation on which the Church’s reality is based. It is a koinonia that has its source in the very mystery of the Triune God and extends to all the baptized, who are therefore called to full unity in Christ. This communion becomes evident in the various institutional forms in which the ecclesial ministry is carried out and in the role of the Successor of Peter as the visible sign of the unity of all believers. Everyone knows that the Second Vatican Council enthusiastically made the “ecumenical” yearning its own. The movement of encounter and clarification, which has been carried out with all the baptized brethren, is irreversible. It is the power of the Spirit who calls all believers to obedience, so that unity may be an effective source of evangelization.

Pope John Paul IIThis is a rich text. Pope John Paul holds communion – communio in Latin or koinonia in Greek – to be not only the foundation of the Church’s identity but also the goal of the ecumenical “movement of encounter and clarification” that has been part of the Church’s mission in especially strong terms since the Council, and which is “irreversible”. It is the work of the Holy Spirit, who is the true “spirit of Vatican II”. Pope John Paul shows that since the visible sign of the Church’s communion is the Pope himself, as successor to St Peter, then communion with the Church gathered around the Pope is the end-game of ecumenism. He further teaches that only when that unity, that full communion, is realised will the Church be able to complete her mission of evangelising the world.

Pope John Paul’s speech led me to see that the Ordinariate is itself only able to be understood within the hermeneutic of continuity. It is a logical fruit of the renewed ecumenical endeavour inspired by the Council. This ecumenical endeavour is not something new, and itself must be seen in the context of the history and teaching of the Church, the hermeneutic of continuity. The Ordinariate is the fruit of this endeavour because it brings many more into full communion with the Church centred on Peter’s successor. It is the fruit of the irreversible work of the Holy Spirit. And it brings closer the day when the Church will be able to fulfill its mission from Christ himself, to proclaim the good news to all the world – a mission that is an essential part of the continuity of the Church. Until then, its evangelisation of the world is impeded by the divisions among Christians. In a world of increasing militant secularism and an even more militant Islam, the Church’s mission is ever more urgent, and thus so too is the ecumenism which will fully enable this mission.

Come back to the Church, and save the world. It is not so silly as it might sound.

Beelzebul, St Francis de Sales and the Unity of the Church

Not quite the title you might have expected to read, but bear with me…

The gospel set for today, Monday of the Third Week of the Year (1) is from St Mark 3:22-30. It deserves careful reading, especially in light of the fact that it coincides with the memoria of St Francis de Sales this year. The RSV version reads:

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Be-el’zebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him, and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house. Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” – for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Jesus cures the man with a withered handSome context – immediately preceding this episode in St Mark’s Gospel we have seen our Lord heal a man with a withered hand on the sabbath (to the horror of the Pharisees), heal others as well as cast out demons, and appoint the Twelve to preach and “to cast out demons” (v.15) themselves. Our Lord is very much setting the pace as he overturns the status quo. The status quo had been that people with disease and possessed by demons were pretty much left to themselves, with little relief from the community or from the Jewish religious authorities. We need only think of the demoniac who lived “night and day among the tombs and on the mountains… always crying out, and bruising himself with stones” (Mark 5:5), or the man who had been sick for 38 years and who could never get to the healing pool of Bethzatha when a space became free without another taking the place before he could (John 5:2-9). For all these, where others had failed, Jesus provides the remedy. And in doing so he upsets the comfortable balance of religion that had developed among the various factions in society at that time. Like most compromises, this status quo did little to benefit anyone except the adroit and the ambitious.

So the scribes and Pharisees seek to turn the tables by ascribing our Lord’s ability to cast out demons (when they could not, and would not) to the fact that he was in the service of demons himself. Beelzebul (or Beelzebub) was a pagan deity whose name meant “Prince Baal”, thus the reference by the Pharisees to the “prince of demons”. There was a belief among many at the time that weaker demons were subject to greater ones. So, Jesus must therefore be, at the very least, in the service of Satan himself in order to be able to cast out as many demons as he had – thus went the scribes’ argument.

The first thing our Lord does is to demolish their faulty theology… or rather, demonology! If Satan were to undo his own work, how could his kingdom stand? It is an illogical argument, and easily dismissed. Moreover, neither Satan nor any demon were in the habit of healing the sick, and certainly they would not have been preaching, as Jesus had been, that “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Jesus’ works were very clearly not those of the devil, but could only have been those of God.

It in light of this that our Lord decrees the gravity of the sin against the Holy Spirit. The nature of that sin is to ascribe to Satan, to evil what is demonstrably the work of God. It is in essence the sin of blasphemy, a direct insult to and rebellion against God, much like Lucifer’s rebellion. While ever this blasphemy is neither recognised nor repented of, it is outside God’s forgiveness. The blasphemy is the greater when it is from the mouths of those who should know better.

Yet there is, as so often, another possible level to this passage. For while Satan does not cast out his own demons, nevertheless his kingdom is divided. It is an irony that Jesus can see that Satan’s kingdom is divided not in the way the scribes’ made out, but in that its only unity is in hatred of God and his beloved creature, man. Unity built on hatred is no unity at all. The principle that my enemy’s enemy is my friend is one of short-term pragmatism, and not enduring truth or substance. This is the weak foundation of the unity of Satan’s kingdom, a house built on sand. And now that our Lord has come, Satan’s house is in fact falling, his reign coming to an end. When the disciples he sent to cast out demons returned to him reporting their success our Lord declared:

I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. (Luke 10:18)

The kingdom of God, the seed of which is the Church, has a unity not based on the negative, the nothingness of hatred, but on the great positive, the true reality of God’s abiding truth and love. So it is very disturbing to see the fruition of ecumenism in such developments as the Ordinariate for ex-Anglicans being ascribed to Vatican attempts to take over the Anglican communion, or to see those seeking to come to the Church through the Ordinariate as misogynists or one-issue Christians who are merely seeking shelter from women clergy. Surely this comes very close to a failure to ascribe to God his own works. Indeed from the mouths of some it may be a blasphemy, perhaps – as they see their little fiefdoms crumbling around them. But they crumble not in vain; out of their ruins the Church is being added to, new accommodation built, as it were, for those who are seeking unity on the Rock, to be fully one with the Vine. Our prayer must be that they do not cling to the wreckage, but seek to enter into the enduring House of God, built on the Rock; and that they might see this clearly as the work of God.

St Francis de SalesSt Francis de Sales has appeared on these pages before, here and here. In light of the above he is a worthy saint to be calling upon today. In the early 17th century he laboured as Bishop of Geneva, in the heartland of Calvinist Protestantism, to bring the straying sheep back to the Church. He did so not through threats or denunciations but through preaching the Good News. On his last visit to Paris crowds thronged to hear him preach as they had never heard “such holy, such apostolic sermons”. He lived and dressed simply, and had a great concern for the poor, and was zealous in hearing confessions. He was also a powerful writer and his Introduction to the Devout Life is still as fresh and sound today as it ever was. In other words, he preached powerfully by both his words and his life. Due to his labours thousands of Protestants came back to the Church. And in this Week of Christian Unity, that is precisely what we are praying will happen again in our day. As indeed it is, as the Ordinariate shows us. It is fitting that St Francis de Sales is the patron of Church Unity, a unity that can only be built on truth and love.

So let us endeavour always to recognise the works of God, and give him glory for them. And if we cannot do so then let us at least obey the sound principle of St Francis de Sales:

Nothing is more like a wise man than a fool who holds his tongue.

The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and Triumphalism

The first three priests of the freshly-erected Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham were ordained yesterday, thanks be to God. There will be many articles regarding them but maybe a good place to start reading is at the sensible Anna Arco’s article at the Catholic Herald.

Fathers Newton, Burnham and Broadhurst (Courtesy of James Bradley - click photo to go to his Flickr page with many more photos)

One thing stuck out when reading The Tablet’s feature article on the matter by Elena Curti. In it she writes in reference to the General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Fr Marcus Stock:

Fr Stock is keen for the Holy Week receptions into the ordinariate to be sensitive in order to maintain good ecumenical relations. “There will be no semblance of triumphalism, but what there will be is a warm welcome for people who have had a difficult journey.”

There can be no problem with what he said. Yet, was he actually so “keen …to maintain good ecumenical relations” by avoiding triumphalism. It is hard to know if that is his sentiment or Ms Curti’s.

Obviously this will be challenging time for the Anglican Communion and good Catholics will not wish to be anything but gracious and charitable. At the same time, we have no need to apologise, nor should we fear a joyful and exuberant celebration of both these first ordinations, and also the receptions and ordinations to come in the next 6 months and beyond.

The Ordinariate is the fruition of honest ecumenism. The Catholic Church does not enter into ecumenical dialogue for mere chit-chat and a warm inner glow. The Church aims to bring our separated brethren back into the Church by means of ecumenical dialogue, demonstrating to them the truth of Catholic teaching and its claims to authentic authority. Fathers Keith, John and Andrew are the first-fruits of a new and potentially large ecumenical harvest of reconciliation to the Church. For this we must rejoice, and not say sorry, nor feel embarrassed. Our Lord was neither apologetic nor coy when he declared that he was sent to the lost sheep of Israel (Matt 15:24). It was not his exclusive mission, nor is it the Church’s exclusive mission. But it is a real part of its mission and now that it bears much fruit we should rejoice.

Nor should we worry too much about ecumenical sensitivities. While rejoicing we are not gloating. Yet it is true that the heat has been turned up on the Anglican communion. There are now even fewer reasons to stay and more than ever to come back to the Church for those Anglicans with Catholic sensibilities. This may upset some Anglicans but it need not upset Catholics: it is the seed of ecumenism grown to a point when it can bear much fruit. The Anglican communion has given much to England: a wonderful liturgical sense, a missionary endeavour worthy of admiration, the voice of conscience to a country that has grown ever more secular and unbelieving over the last 250 years or more. On these levels God has used it to bring good out of the damage of the Reformation. But now the Anglican communion has largely ceased to voice the Christian message in any significant way and has yielded to secular forces especially in the areas of morality, theology and social teaching. I suspect that its day has passed, and now is the time for English Christians to return to the Church that brought Christianity here originally.

To say so is not triumphalistic. It is to be confident in the truth and rightness of the Church’s ecumenical endeavour. It is to rejoice at the return to the fold of so many lost sheep. It is to turn to the Anglican communion with arms outstretched and say, “Now is the acceptable time. Come home.” If we are in any way triumphalistic it is only the triumphalism shown by the father as he welcomed home his prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). And for that we have our Lord’s own warrant:

But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”

And certainly let us who are in the Church not be like the prodigal’s elder brother as we see our separated brethren return:

Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. And he said to him, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.” But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, “Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!” And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.”

How can we rest and be happy until our brethren are back home with us? Perhaps now their return has begun in earnest. If so, let us rejoice and be glad.

Douai Abbey and the Ordinariate

This morning after Lauds we farewelled the former Anglican bishops and now new Catholics Keith Newton, John Broadhurst and Andrew Burnham after they spent a few days of retreat here at Douai Abbey to prepare for their ordination as deacons today, and priests on Saturday. I was given the happy duty of giving them some input.

As it turned out our meetings became more like workshops as we discussed elements of Catholic life and teaching that are of relevance or interest to them. In particular they were keen to be up to speed on confession and the identity and character of the priest. It ensured that I was up to speed as well!

Keith Newton

Several things became clear during their stay at Douai. All three men have a wealth of pastoral experience and insight that will be a great blessing to such a new body as the Ordinariate. They bring with them a particularly Anglo-Catholic approach to pastoral care that can only enrich the wider Church. That approach combines a very gentle touch with a full consideration of the Church’s teaching on relevant issues. While always striving never to crush the bruised reed  their pastoral approach neither ignores, downplays or over-emphasizes orthodox teaching but at the same time accepts that some people will take more time and accompaniment to integrate it into their lives fully and honestly. It seems eminently sensible. Moreover, for married men, they seem to have been able to devote a great deal of time to their flocks in the past, which were marginalised within the Anglican communion and so in need of special care. I would not be surprised if some non-Ordinariate Catholics find their way to Ordinariate churches to hear some wise, orthodox and gentle words of advice and encouragement.

John Broadhurst

It also became clear that these men, and those that will be following them, are no mere refugees from the chaotic theology and morality of the Anglican communion. They have been for a long time ad-liminal Catholics, we might say – standing at the threshold of the Church waiting for the definitive call of the Lord to enter, for the acceptable time. They have a thorough knowledge of Catholic teaching and liturgy, and have been living by both for years. Their reception into the Church is but the logical fruition of the progress of their faith and experience. Indeed they, and the Ordinariate at large, represent the blooming of authentic ecumenism, which is never about dialogue for its own sake, but dialogue aimed at bringing home the sheep outside the fold. They are a sign that ecumenism is maturing, and indeed that it has come of age.

These men also fall far short of the caricatures that some who are unhappy with the Ordinariate provision might peddle. They are happily married men, and no misogynists. They are anything but gin-and-lace types. They all have an open, frank and approachable style of interaction with people and do not stand on ceremony or their own dignity. They will make wonderful pastors within the Catholic Church.

Andrew Burnham

Lastly, it became clear, more by reading between the lines than anything they explicitly said, that their move into full communion with the Church will involve great sacrifice, as it has already. Indeed all the Anglican clergy who come to Rome will be making a great sacrifice, for some especially a great sacrifice to be sure. They will move from the familiar to what is unfamiliar in many of its details. Those with families have had financial security within the Anglican communion, and similar security is by no means obvious with the Church. There is also the upset, confusion and sometimes even bitterness of their former brethren who cannot make the move across to Rome with them. And by no means least important is the happy, rewarding and fruitful ministry they have been accustomed to and gave a strong sense of purpose to their  lives, which now they leave behind.

So it behooves the wider Church to ensure that they and their families, and the Ordinariate, in general find a joyful welcome in the Church, and the support they need, be it material, personal or spiritual. They bring with them a true and valuable patrimony, not least liturgical sensitivity and pastoral wisdom. It should be our prayer that the Ordinariate enables as many Anglicans as possible to enter the fold of the Church, and that their presence within the wider Church will enrich us and encourage us in our own Catholic lives.

Shortly Keith, John and Andrew will ordained deacons, and on Saturday, priests. May they bear much fruit to God’s glory. Ad multos annos!

May Blessed John Henry Newman pray for them, and may they be able to make his words their own:

From the time that I became a Catholic, of course I have no further history of my religious opinions to narrate. In saying this, I do not mean to say that my mind has been idle, or that I have given up thinking on theological subjects; but that I have had no variations to record, and have had no anxiety of heart whatever. I have been in perfect peace and contentment; I never have had one doubt. I was not conscious to myself, on my conversion, of any change, intellectual or moral, wrought in my mind. I was not conscious of firmer faith in the fundamental truths of Revelation, or of more self-command; I had not more fervour; but it was like coming into port after a rough sea; and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption.

Apologia pro Vita Sua, Chapter 5

The changing nature of ecumenism

The Tablet reports that Cardinal-elect Kurt Koch, the recently-appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has made a bold start in his analysis of the current character of ecumenism. As yet there is no full text of Bishop Koch’s speech to the Council’s plenary session, but what is quoted is incisive stuff.

In a nutshell he sees most of the Protestant denominations as pursuing ecumenism according to a relativistic and pluralistic agenda, rather than one that seeks unity. Many Protestant groups have been settling for inter-communion rather communion, shared recognition rather than unity. In other words, rather than seeking re-union they seek to maintain their own independent existence while recognising the independent existence of other denominations, and in so doing recognising each other’s ministry and sacraments to the point where they can receive the sacraments in each other’s churches. Bishop Koch calls this “ecclesiological pluralism” which works towards a sort of “recognised diversity”.

There is no doubt much that is positive in this development, in the very least insofar as it breaks down hostility between various denominations. However, while it can be reconciled with a Protestant view of the nature of the Church and it is impossible to accommodate it to a Catholic one. For the Catholic Church (and the Orthodox too) there must be agreement in faith before there can be sharing in sacraments. Moreover such a sharing in sacraments and doctrine would in effect establish that the churches would not be essentially different from each other but rather constituent parts of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. Catholic ecumenism seeks unity not recognised diversity.

The Church acknowledges that there is truth to be found in other Christian denominations and that God can and does work through them, but the Second Vatican Council made it clear that those divine elements of truth in other Christian groupings are “forces impelling [them] towards Catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium 8). God works through other denominations in order to bring them back to unity with the Church Christ founded. The Council Fathers put it beautifully in their document specifically related to ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio (4):

When the obstacles to perfect ecclesiastical communion have been gradually overcome, all Christians will at last, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, be gathered into the one and only Church in that unity which Christ bestowed on His Church from the beginning. We believe that this unity subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.

The ecumenical endeavour of the Church is geared towards removing those obstacles and so advance unity. The most obvious obstacles are those of doctrine and sacramental practice. Yet there are also more personal ones, such as hardness of heart, resentment and hostility born of past events, and a spirit of suspicion and mistrust. Doctrine will not change, though our insights into it can and will. But our hearts can change, and according to Pope John Paul II they must change if there is to be progress in true ecumenism:

Christians cannot underestimate the burden of long-standing misgivings inherited from the past, and of mutual misunderstandings and prejudices. Complacency, indifference and insufficient knowledge of one another often make this situation worse. Consequently, the commitment to ecumenism must be based upon the conversion of hearts and upon prayer, which will also lead to the necessary purification of past memories. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Lord’s disciples, inspired by love, by the power of the truth and by a sincere desire for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation, are called to re-examine together their painful past and the hurt which that past regrettably continues to provoke even today. (Ut Unum Sint, 2).

This is only a quick and shallow reflection. Obviously I have not even touched on what Pope Benedict has to say on ecumenism. Nevertheless it might serve to prompt us to think carefully about what the Church is doing as it welcomes more Anglicans into full communion with the Church by means of the Ordinariate structure. Surely the Church sees that these Anglicans have realised that ecumenism ends in full communion with the Church and wishes to facilitate their entry into communion rather than allow unnecessary obstacles to stand in their way. One wonders if those Catholics and Anglicans who oppose, often with sharp words, this move might not need that conversion of heart that Pope John Paul II wrote of. It is a Catholics Christian duty to welcome our brothers and sisters into the bosom of the Church.

Another prompt to this reflection on Bishop Koch’s insights is that tonight the Anglican Benedictine community of Elmore Abbey, recently moved to Salisbury, are joining with us tonight to celebrate our titular feast of St Edmund (more on which tomorrow). The monks of Elmore (whose heyday was at their former home of Nashdom) have always been closely associated with that movement in Anglicanism that seeks reunion with the Church under the Pope. We might pray that our monastic community’s sharing of Christian hospitality with them might be a powerful instrument in guiding them into full communion with us. Let us pray for a new Pentecost to re-establish one Church before the eyes of the world, that it might believe.