Fr. Longenecker writes on the Ordinariate

Our Sunday Visitor has this piece by Fr. Longenecker that looks back at the Ordinariates on the fifth anniversary of Anglicanorum coetibus.

The Anglican ordinariate is an extraordinary and unexpected creation. Never before has a pope established a new ecclesial structure like it. It is a brave experiment — an innovative move toward church unity and a controversial action on the part of Rome. By some accounts, its creation was greeted with dismay by the Anglican leadership. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was surprised by the move, while other Anglican leaders said it was insensitive, predatory and unnecessary. They could not help but perceive it as an attempt by the pope to steal sheep from their flock.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster prays as former Anglican bishops John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton lie prostrate during their ordination as Catholic priests at Westminster Cathedral in London in 2011. CNS photo

Why this, why now?

The Anglicans’ reaction was understandable. For some time now in England, the numbers of Catholics at Mass on a Sunday far surpass the number of Anglicans at church. Despite the fact that the Church of England owns all the ancient cathedrals, colleges and churches that were once Catholic, the number of English people who worship in the Church of England is far smaller than the number of Catholics. Pope Benedict’s move seemed threatening.

What the Anglicans did not understand is that Pope Benedict was not actively reaching out to convert Anglicans, but was responding to repeated requests from Anglicans around the world for a way to become Catholic while retaining their beloved traditions. These requests had been arriving in Rome with regularity since the late 1970s.

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