AD RAMOS! Three former Anglican bishops received into Roman Church… ORDINATION TO FOLLOW!

Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity

I admire courage.

Fr. Seán Finnegan has a post about the reception of the Anglican bishops into the Roman Church at Westminster Cathedral in London.

History Being Made

One of my jobs is that of teaching Church History in a seminary, and it is a awesome (in the correct sense of the word) thing to be actually present at an event which my successors will be teaching about.

I was present today in Westminster Cathedral when three (not the five that had been prophesied) former Anglican bishops were received into full Communion with the Catholic Church.
The whole thing was very low-key, really. I turned up early, and was saying a prayer at the shrine of Our Lady of Pew when I was joined by a man in a purple tie. He asked for assistance in a small matter, and I recognized John Broadhurst (hard to know how to title him right now). We chatted for a minute, and I thought that he seemed in very cheerful humour.
I crossed over to the Blessed Sacrament chapel and was met by two anxious-looking journalists who also wanted help. They were deceived by my clerical collar into thinking I was on the local team. ‘We’re from The Telegraph, and are here for the Ordination at 12.30’. Well, The Telegraph had obviously not sent the A team, I thought, if they hadn’t even realized what they were coming to!
I got a nice seat at one side, and was pleased to espy Jeffery Steel of De Cura Animarum in the congregation.
There was a little rehearsal beforehand, and Mass duly began. There was absolutely no reference whatever to the elephant in the room (the reception of these notables) from the celebrant (and former Tibernaut) Bishop Alan Hopes or anyone else. It was simply a Mass for the feast of the Mother of God; a little note in the service sheet simply observed that there would be a reception in the middle. Finally, once he had preached, Bishop Hopes said a word about what was happening. [I bet many priests share my wish that weddings be handled with this sobriety.]
The reception itself was very low-key. The journalists turned out to be photographers, and put their heads over the screen behind the choir stalls, setting the volume of their shutter clicks to Maximum and Extremely Distracting. Only the three active flying bishops were received, all modestly and humbly in ties, together with some members of some of their families, plus the three sisters from Walsingham. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] I was surprised to see that even John Broadhurst, baptized a Catholic, was received along with the rest. They were then confirmed—some in accord with tradition took confirmation names; one of the former bishops took Benedict, another Joseph, others used their baptismal names—and they returned to their places to gentle applause. One of the sisters, descending the steps grinned at the congregation and gave two thumbs up.
They were then introduced to a great Catholic tradition; the collection. [aka Pastoral Theology 101] With masterly tact, a large African woman in a great pink headdress [LOL!] descended on the poor sisters (who if Dame Rumour speak true* had been turned out into the snow in their shifts) and menaced them with a collection bag. A fellow brigand went to mug the former bishops.
We all received communion, (five of our new brethren, including all three former bishops, on the tongue) and, lo, it was done. We are in communion.
The Ordinariate is launched very quietly and gently, slipping almost unnoticed into the water.
Dat Deus incrementum.
[Ad ramos!]

This gives me great satisfaction.


Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity

Now the next step comes:

I read on Caritas in veritate of the great Fr. John Boyle that…

… three of the five former Anglican bishops received into the Catholic Church this morning will be ordained to the diaconate on January 13th and then to the priesthood two days later on January 15th, all pointing towards the setting up of an Ordinariate for England and Wales in the first half of January.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Father G says:

    Glory to God in the highest! Wonderful! Let us hope and pray that this is only the beginning!
    Pope Benedict IS the Pope of Christian Unity!!!

  2. Beautiful!!! May God reward all of them a hundredfold for all that they have lost, and may their coming home enrich and delight us all.

  3. Before anybody asks, yeah, Anglicanorum coetibus says the Ordinary of an Anglican Ordinariate can be a bishop or a priest, and that if it’s a priest, it can be an ex-Anglican bishop who’s been ordained in the Catholic Church.

  4. Vetdoctor says:

    setting the volume of their shutter clicks to Maximum and Extremely Distracting.

    That’s particularly funny since all these cameras are digital and the noise is rather like having your computer set to make a “zing” noise when you hit the return. (…sorry, “enter”).

  5. Thanks be to God! May this bear abundant fruit!

    I suppose such discretion with this reception is prudent in England, or has become customary among Catholics there.

    By the way, discrete photographers have typically preferred Leica cameras, due to their small size, excellent image quality, and quiet shutter — all of which come at a staggering price. A few photojournalist-style cameras have a quiet mode, but the photographers possibly didn’t have one of these.

  6. Vet doctor:

    Most pro-level cameras have a mirror which has to flip out of the way, as well as a shutter that covers the sensor; both of these are noisy. Many consumer grade cameras can be silent — you can turn off the beeps — but typically cannot be used in dim lighting to get quality results.

  7. Martial Artist says:

    @Mark Scott Abeln and @Vetdoctor,

    The cameras Mr. Abeln refers to that have internal mirrors are termed “Digital SLRs,” SLR being an abbreviation for “single lens reflex.”

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  8. Stu says:

    “The Ordinariate is launched very quietly and gently, slipping almost unnoticed into the water.”
    I really liked that imagery and I liked the way this is being done. While I hesitate to use a sports analogy in such matters, it reminds me of how John Riggins used to simply flip the ball to the referee after scoring a touchdown as he trotted off the field. Getting to the endzone is statement enough.

  9. DavidJ says:

    Excellent news!

  10. markomalley says:

    Thanks be to God!

  11. catholicmidwest says:

    Interesting that there were 3 and not 5, considering the runup to this event. Nevertheless, it’s wonderful to witness the 3 clergy and the 3 sisters.

    At least as important as these receptions is the erection of the juridical structure and the means for Anglicans to come over in groups or individually to the church by means of the ordinariate. Quite fascinating. It really makes it possible for them to become Catholic, while keeping some of the things that they treasure from their patrimony. Very like the Byzantines, Ukrainians, etc etc, if I understand correctly. I wonder if they will use a revised Book of Common Prayer?

  12. TJerome says:

    A wonderful beginning to the new year for the Faith in England. Brick by brick. May God bless these fine people. This is my idea of ecumenism!!!!

  13. Dr. Eric says:

    I pray that these are the first of MANY converts in England.

  14. Dr. Eric says:

    For the new Ordinariate, that is.

  15. brianvzn says:

    Unfortunately, we have also learned today that the pope will be returning to the scene of the 1986 debacle this October to once again meet with leaders of False Religions. Of course, we should all pray for peace, but I hope the horrors of 1986 are not repeated. Ratzinger has criticized that event in the past but today said it will “honour the memory of the historical event promoted by my predecessor”. I sense this will be a great setback to the discussions with the SSPX. The 1986 meeting was one of Archbishop’s Lefebvre’s reasons that consecrations must take place. We will have to wait until October to see how this plays out. Let us pray that this meeting does not give the appearance that these representatives of False Religions are anywhere near on equal footing with Catholicism. We must hold true to our Faith. There is only One True Church, the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

  16. Victor says:


    1. this blog entry is not really about the Assisi Peace Gathering, be it 1986 or 2011
    2. you can torpedo everything by bitching about it in advance
    3. I think we can trust our Holy Father to handle things correctly and, if necessary, differently than they were done 1986
    4. however it will be handled, the Holy Father could hardly announce “We will have a gathering at Assisi to commemorate 25 years since 1986, but it won’t be a catastrophe as John Paul II did back in the days”, now could he?

    I guess what I am saying is: “Why do you post this here? Or, you know, at all?”

  17. chloesmom says:

    Forgive me, but upon hearing this wonderful news I just had to say, “Henry VIII, eat your heart out!” May God bless these new Catholic brothers and sisters now and always!

  18. brianvzn says:

    I posted this here because the talks with the SSPX are extemely important and relate to Christian Unity. Why is the Vicar of Christ going to yet again meet with leaders of false religions? Protestants and Muslims are nothing but heretics. I am also disturbed by the Pope’s recent comment that we should not pray for Jews in the missionary sense anymore. This reeks of the false ecumenism which sadly we have witnessed since Vatican II.

    Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos (#10), Jan. 6, 1928: “… the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it…”

    I am very happy that some Anglicans are coming to the One True Church, I pray that they all do. Having public prayer meeting with members of false religions only lends credence to them. It gives the appearance that we accept then as equals and that they can bring something to the table. There is only One True Religion. I fear this will damage the talks with the SSPX, therefore causing damage to Unity. That is why I posted this here, because it is a post about Unity. [Remember… it is a comment you are able to post here. A comment.]

    Very important reading on Unity:

    God bless you Victor. Let us pray for the Holy Father and the conversion of all peoples to the One True Church.

  19. AnAmericanMother says:

    Clearly the Telegraph didn’t send the “A” team, since they wound up not using any of their photos but just a file photo of Pope Benedict:

    Usual bigoted comments from the usual bigoted suspects, as well.

  20. LorrieRob says:

    Really great news and quite moving actually. There really is no remaining reason for the AngloCatholic part of the Anglican Communion to remain separated from the church. Praise God for Pope Benedict’s insight in this matter.

  21. Fr. Basil says:

    Over 40 years, while still in college, I left the Southern Baptist Church where I was raised for PECUSA (as she was then called).

    The few years there were not a total waste. I learned to love liturgical prayer, the Sacramental life, the Divine Office (first the BCP, the eventually Anglican Breviary, a translation and adaptation of the BR of 1911). And it was there that the desire for monastic life was developed.

    But in these short years, I eventually learned to my sorrow that the Episcopal Church was not the Church I thought I was joining.

    It grieves me to see the official Church of England and Episcopal Church rend their own bowels out. And my heart aches for the many fissiparous continuing Anglican groups which are trying to reinvent the same old bumpy, out-of-round, wheel, with the same problems that will only revive in the future.

    To put it briefly, if you mix up apples, flour, sugar, sauerkraut, and gravy, you’ll never get a chocolate cake.

    I eventually learned for myself that it is pointless to re-invent the Church.

    There is only one solution I can see.

    I was Orthodox for several decades, but it is only in an Eastern Catholic Church in communion with Rome that I found the spiritual stability and security I so badly needed and sought.

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    It will be fascinating to watch this play out, perhaps somewhat reminiscent of the return of the eastern rites to the church so long ago. It is really very much more important than the news coverage is making it out to be. Yet, no one really knows what will happen, or what the consequences in a dozen different ways will be. There are foes on both sides, I’m quite sure, but also great hopes and allies. I wish our new Catholics the best and hope they find a happy home in the new English Ordinariate.

  23. edm says:

    ” Protestants … are nothing but heretics.”

    Dear brianvzn,
    It is precisely this sort of rhetoric that has kept many Anglicans (yes, even Anglocatholics) from swimming the Tiber.

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    Actually there are a whole bunch of rites and ordinariates and so on in union with Rome. The Latin Rite that most of us are used to, and tend to think of as the Catholic Church, is only one of over 20 rites in the Church. It just happens to be the largest and the most common in Western countries like the USA. But it’s not the only one.

    Latin Rite Catholics are going to have to be tolerant about this ordinariate. It may not look like what we’re used to as it develops. It’s going to be okay. We’re getting people who really want to be with us instead of someplace else. I’m pretty sure the Byzantine, Armenian, Ukrainian, Maronite, etc etc, rites didn’t look like the Latin Rite either when they were being constituted in union with Rome as members re-entered the Catholic Church. Easy does it…..

  25. tzard says:

    I was struck with the speed of things happening. Announcement of resignation on 8th of November, Resignation effective on December 31st, reception January 1st, Mid January for ordination? That’s warp speed in the Catholic Church, almost unbelievable. A mere 14 months since Anglicanorum Coetibus came out. Simply amazing!

  26. priests wife says:

    Glory to God!

    Now- my prayer- any Orthodox church that would be willing to unify…(a girl can dream)

  27. I pray that many more follow! God bless these good men and women!

  28. Fr. Basil says:

    \\Now- my prayer- any Orthodox church that would be willing to unify…(a girl can dream)\\

    Dear priest’s wife, I agree with your sentiments, but wouldn’t it be better to speak of mutual reconciliation, mutual forgiveness, and restoration of Eucharistic Communion?

    A friend of mine once observed, “The OCA needs the Synod [as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia was once called] and the Synod needs the OCA.” With the reconciliation of ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate, that has come to pass, and all Orthodoxy is better for it.

    Every schism that is healed, every ecclesiastical estrangement that is resolved means we are one step closer to full reconciliation ourselves.

    Echoing her words, the Catholic Church needs the Eastern Churches, and the Eastern Churches need the Catholic Church.

    To continue the present separation is for the eye to say to the hand, “I have no need of thee.”

    Lord, hasten the day.

  29. Hans says:

    The Ordinariate is launched very quietly and gently, slipping almost unnoticed into the water.

    Surely Fr. Finnegan is referencing Newman’s Dream of Gerontius, which ends thus:


    Softly and gently, dearly-ransom’d soul,
    In my most loving arms I now enfold thee,
    And, o’er the penal waters, as they roll,
    I poise thee, and I lower thee, and hold thee.

    And carefully I dip thee in the lake,
    And thou, without a sob or a resistance,
    Dost through the flood thy rapid passage take,
    Sinking deep, deeper, into the dim distance. {370}

    Angels, to whom the willing task is given,
    Shall tend, and nurse, and lull thee, as thou
    And masses on the earth, and prayers in heaven,
    Shall aid thee at the Throne of the Most

    Farewell, but not for ever! brother dear,
    Be brave and patient on thy bed of sorrow;
    Swiftly shall pass thy night of trial here,
    And I will come and wake thee on the morrow.

  30. Hans says:

    Before anybody asks, yeah, Anglicanorum coetibus says the Ordinary of an Anglican Ordinariate can be a bishop or a priest, and that if it’s a priest, it can be an ex-Anglican bishop who’s been ordained in the Catholic Church.

    True. But as I have wondered elsewhere, would a priest-ordinary not be at some disadvantage were some disagreement to arise with one or more bishop-ordinaries?

    Though, assuredly, that is unlikely to happen, and I am troubling myself over nothing.

  31. Maronites are Easter Rite, but never left the Church.

    Blessings to the former Bishops and Sisters for their Communion with Rome.

    Many more to pray for, the Orthodox, SSPX, even those Lutherans who believe in Real Presence, including other Christian Communities long denominated. If anyone can offer sound reason in becoming a “Tibernaut” we must trust in the current Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict who has a long history of teaching, leading, correcting, and heading what many here believe is the “right direction” in so many ways.

    Pray also for openess of our own hearts to the will of God in these unifying matters.

  32. Fr. Basil says:

    \\But as I have wondered elsewhere, would a priest-ordinary not be at some disadvantage were some disagreement to arise with one or more bishop-ordinaries?\\

    Something like that happened in the USA when a Ruthenian/Ukrainian bishop was appointed for the “Greek Catholics,” but could only function as an auxiliary and with the permission of the Latin bishop in whose territory an Eastern parish was located.

    Then after his death, when this was split into Ruthenian and Ukrainian ordinariates with priest-administrators, this didn’t help.

    However, a true “ordinary”–regardless of the rank of his orders–still would have JURISDICTION separate from the Latin bishops, at least I should think.

  33. irishgirl says:

    Wow-this is great news! And so soon for the three former Anglican bishops!
    Our Papa Benedict XVI IS the ‘Pope of Christian Unity’!

  34. Hans says:

    It occurs to me that today, the memorial of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (January 4), would have been a propitious day for American Episcopalians to have come into full communion.


    I suppose that highlights my concern, Fr. Basil. There were complications even between Rites (and the treatment of non-Roman/Latin Rites in the US has a somewhat sad history), but the Anglican Ordinariate isn’t another Rite; it is fundamentally Roman/Latin, so questions of jurisdiction might become tricky.

    Then again, surely I’m worrying over nothing and such problems won’t arise.

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