Ordinariates under Pope Francis

Deborah Gyapong asks the question Could this new Pope pave the way for new Ordinariates?

I suppose nothing is impossible, and we will not have long to wait to find out what the major orientations of the new pontificate are going to be.

From what seems to be possible to guess so far, I would be surprised if Pope Francis would subscribe to the foundational idea of the Ordinariates and any kind of “uniatism”, that of maintaining the famous axiom “no salvation outside the (Roman Catholic) Church” and making conversion imperative.

A comment arrived on this blog, written by Stephen K:

If Francis really said that Anglicans are needed as Anglicans, then I think that is clear-sighted. No religious brand completely expresses the richness of religious Christian humanity at its best. There is something unique about all of them. In my eyes, the Ordinariates are a self-defeating concept: if you are an Anglican and desire to be remain one, you must by definition, so to speak, not be in communion with Rome, however ‘high’ you worship. And so on for anyone else. The moment you join, juridically, Rome, you cease to be what you were.

Nor is it the same converting to a religion or church as being born and raised in it. There is always something different. Every denomination and variant is a reproach to one’s own sense of self-sufficiency, and a corrective to possible pride. I wish more people would open their eyes to see the qualities that each “other” has. In my view, no-one has to stop believing and worshipping what they do and love; they just have to accept that other people see and experience things they don’t.

It seemed such a long time ago that we were running after Cardinal Kasper’s moving train with Archbishop Hepworth beckoning us to run faster! Now, the dust has settled, and I see things how they are. When you miss a train, you either wait for the next one or find another form of transport. I have been thinking of a posting about ecumenism over the last couple of days, but I don’t think I have any newer or better ideas than anyone else. Soloviev had noticed more than a hundred years ago that union schemes organised from the top always fail, because they don’t represent God’s people.

So, if we want to promote Christian unity, to hell with authorities and laws, and with realities hundreds or thousands of miles from where we live! Let’s just be good Goliards, keep the sacramental life going through the Apostolic Priesthood, and make the Sacraments and Christian teaching available to the people regardless of which institution they belong to. When I have people coming to Mass here in France, they are nearly always Roman Catholics. I don’t think I have ever had a single Anglican in my chapel since Archbishop Hepworth’s last visit in October 2010. They knew who and what I am and that I have valid orders and they receive a true Eucharist. They have been let down by their clergy and they seem to trust me. That is where the unity is. That seems to me to be the Church of the future.

To be sure, I think the existing Ordinariates will stay. But, I don’t think they will form an influential part of mainstream Catholicism. Perhaps Pope Francis would give enough encouragement to the Southern Cone Anglicans so that other Anglicans join up with them and leave the progressives / revisionists to their buildings and dwindling funds. That is something I see happening rather than the creation of ordinariates for Evangelicals.

I may be wrong. Let’s see.

* * *

Here is a comment by Dr William Tighe (source) on just about the same subject:

Concerning this reported portion of the then Cardinal Bergoglio’s statement, “He called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the church needs us as Anglicans,” I have real problems. I cite the responses of two friends:

(1) “It sounds like an innocent throw-away line to calm an insecure ‘ecumenical partner’ looking to be affirmed.”

(2) “The worst thing about it is that it is a doctrinally incorrect statement. A Catholic can’t say ‘We need you as Anglicans if it means to remain Anglicans.’ There is only supposed to be one Church, the Catholic Church, and we necessarily must wish for all to be Catholic. We can hope that particular charisms and virtues of various groups of separated brethren may be preserved in Catholic unity, but that is what the Ordinariates are supposed to do for Anglicans.

It also does not bode well for the Ordinariates. I am sure that bishops with no interest in it whatsoever, or even rather negative feelings, have cooperated because they knew it was something the Pope cared about. Without that I feer Msgr.Steenson may receive a less warm welcome in many a diocese than he has come to expect. I hope I am wrong about this, but this is my fear.”

My own belief is that Pope Francis will be better informed about these matters than Cardinal Bergoglio was, if only because the view of Anglican matters from Rome will be rather different than that from Buenos Aires.

Interesting. Someone needs to do some research into what kind of terms Cardinal Bergoglio spoke when in face of aggressive proselytism with Evangelical and Charismatic groups. Did he try getting them to convert to the “true Church”? How far did he go with ecumenism? This remains to be seen, what he said as a Cardinal in Argentina and what he will say in Rome. Conservative Roman Catholics are going to sift every word he says and project Pius IX onto him as they did with Benedict XVI.

I suspect he will continue with blurring the restriction of the “true church” to the Roman Catholic Church. We may find a similar kind of attitude as with John Paul II, and lots of scandals for traditionalists each time he prays with Protestants, other monotheists and people of other religions. Expect an Assisi III!

We may find more warmth to the Southern Cone Anglicans of South America and Africa and more aloofness to the Church of England and mainstream Anglicanism in North America. That might be a “respectable” midway position between the ordinariates and “still outside” Continuing Anglicans on one side and Anglicans who ordain women and support the LGBT agenda on the other. He’ll have to play that card very carefully.

William Tighe is reserved about the Ordinariates. I don’t think Pope Francis will abolish anything instituted by Benedict XVI, but he might neglect them and leave them to the tender mercies of the episcopal conferences. Like the Ecclesia Dei traditionalists (Fraternity of St Peter, Institute of Christ the King, etc.), everything will depend on the local bishop. The Ordinariates may have ordinary jurisdiction, but may continue de facto to depend on the local dioceses. So, good in some places and bad in others.

I fear the rug has been pulled out from under the feet of those who want to affirm nineteenth-century ecclesiology. It won’t work. Many will find ways to be “as Catholic as possible” – or simply Catholic – without Rome.

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