Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!

News from Fatima
May 19, 2010, 12:35 pm
Filed under: Opinion | Tags: , , ,

For the past week I have been in Fatima, from 10th-17th May. That means, of course, that I was there for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the shrine, to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Fatima on the 13th (Ascension Day was celebrated on Sunday 16th). I was able to attend two of the Holy Father’s engagements, the First Vespers of the Feast in the new Church of the Holy Trinity, at which he addressed several thousand clergy and religious; and the Solemn Mass of the Festival on the steps of the Basilica, at which he spoke to some three or four hundred thousand pilgrims, including the President of Portugal.

I was with a mainly Anglican group, including two bishops, eleven clergy and about ten lay people. Needless to say, there was much talk of the forthcoming Ordinariate. Unfortunately, those who knew most were able to say least! However, I was told that a great deal of what has been said and printed is inaccurate (and that probably goes for some of the things you read in this blog!) My informant expressed frustration that more cannot be said to correct these inaccurate reports at the moment, but he hopes it will not be too long before there is greater clarity.

The best advice is to study carefully the actual texts of the Apostolic Constitution and its accompanying norms. It is clear from this that any Ordinariate is to be established by the Holy See, and not by the local Catholic hierarchy. While some priests will be self-supporting, it will be normal for them to be supported by the faithful, with housing provided by the Church. The whole point of the exercise is for Anglicans who enter into full communion with the Holy See to retain their identity, which is not just a matter of liturgical practice, but of spiritual and pastoral practice as well. The message I got was that the anxieties of ordinary clergy and people are well understood where it matters, and that every effort will be made to deal with them sympathetically and imaginatively.

Regular prayer is vital, personal and communal. I am getting positive responses from the Bristol area (and even from South Wales), and the more I can add to my Newman Group mailing list, the better I shall be pleased!


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