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

The Catechism and the Ordinariate
July 20, 2010, 6:23 pm
Filed under: Opinion | Tags: , , ,

Elsewhere in the blogosphere there has been some discussion of the question how in practice the Ordinariate will be established, how long and in what way clergy and people will be prepared, and so on. Against some rather gloomy views, Fr Christopher Philips, a former American Episcopalian now priest of an “Anglican Use” parish in the States, writes of his own experience in taking his parish into union with Rome:

“Those of us who are pastors of Anglican Use parishes … ministered to our people during the time of our preparation, and that preparation was done individually and at home. The only travelling we did was to be assessed for a few days, and then to be examined, again for a few days. We were responsible for catechizing our own people, although oftentimes we would invite other Catholic clergy to assist in the process. The laity were not given an examination before their professions of faith. There is no indication that there will be a remarkably different system for those entering an Ordinariate.”

“Catechizing” means ensuring that everyone is reasonably familiar with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, so as to be able to say meaningfully that they accept it as an expression of their own faith. It does not imply that people have to learn it by heart or pass any exams on it. The full Catechism is a fine text-book for clergy and others to use in teaching the faith; the Compendium is a much shorter summary of its gist. I do not think any Anglo-Catholic who studies either will find any surprises, but there will be opportunities during the formal course of preparation to ask questions. It is important to remember that Anglicanorum Coetibus is about groups wishing to enter communion with the Holy See, but that it will have to be an individual decision for each person whether or not they want to be part of such a group when it is established, or subsequently. No one will be enrolled against their will, and the process is not about forcing beliefs or practices on anyone, but about enabling people who already believe and practice the Catholic Faith to enter into a fuller unity with the Successor of St Peter, the Pope, as our Lord desires.

The old “Penny Catechism” of the Catholic Church, a copy of which I still possess, contained this simple Act of Faith: “O my God, I believe in Thee and all Thy Church doth teach, because Thou hast said it, and Thy word is true.” Our primary Act of Faith is in God himself; and secondarily in the Church as the authentic teacher of God’s word. It would take a lifetime and more to explore the content of that teaching fully!


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Well said, Fr Paul; there are too many people ready to knock the Ordinariate while knowing nothing about it. Thanks for what you have said. +E

Comment by Edwin Barnes

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