The Catholic journalist in London has linked up with Joan Lewis, the EWTN correspondent from Rome! We had a very talkative and informative dinner together in a London pub, the Albert in Victoria Street, near Westminster Cathedral.
Joan has been in London covering the creation of the new Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
This is history in the making: after 400 years, the healing of the great split that began under Henry VIII and meant the creation of a Church of England separated from Rome with all sorts of consequences.
I was invited to speak to an Ordinariate group in Kent, and found a packed hall, with people from both the Anglican parish and the local Catholic parish. The Anglicans are interested in joining the Ordinariate, the Catholics friendly. There are still, however, a great many problems and there will be hiccups and heartache.
Where will the new Anglican Ordinariate people worship? They can, of course, use the local Catholic church, but Mass times will have to be adjusted to fit them – which might mean an awkward afternoon slot – and it won’t feel quite like home. Their own beautiful church will now be closed to them. The Anglican dioceses have, thus far at least, indicated that there will be no sharing, no co-operation. And, similarly, the vicar and his family will, of course, have to find a new home. Where will funds be found? Father Keith Newton, the newly-ordained leader of this fledgling Ordinariate, needs our prayer as he faces the huge task of getting things sorted out.
The Catholic Church will gain much: new Ordinariate parishes with beautiful liturgy, Anglican traditions such as Evensong, a sense of zest and adventure. But there are responsibilities we can’t shirk. We should, in fairness, help to shoulder some of the financial burdens. Will there be a fund to which ordinary people can contribute? Surely Catholic groups and organisations can help with some fundraising? What about prayer cards to unite us spiritually with the needs and hopes of those making this great journey of faith?
London is cold and wet in a lingering winter, but somehow with the Ordinariate, a spiritual light is glowing.