Monday, 7 February 2011

The Australian Ordinariate progresses...

Bishop Peter Elliot has put out a press release on an "Ordinariate Festival" held in Queensland on February 1 to 3. 

The meeting apparently enabled Anglicans from all States came together with Catholics to understand more about Pope Benedict’s offer of a Personal Ordinariate for former Anglicans seeking full communion with the Church. The meeting was followed by a meeting of the national implementation committee. 

On February 26 another Ordinariate Festival will be held in Perth, at Holy Family church Como, hosted by Bishop Harry Entwhistle (Traditional Anglican Communion. Other festivals are envisaged for Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide to inform people as plans for an Australian Ordinariate take shape.


I do think that the credibility of the enterprise has been enhanced by the fact that the participants included clergy, laity and religious women from the official Anglican Church of Australia (ACA) as well as the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia (TAC).

There has been some angst around the fact that Archbishop Hepworth, the head of the TAC, is a Catholic priest who defected from the faith, and twice attempted marriage (both I gather invalid since had not been laicized).  My own view is that the angst is unChristian: we should surely welcome such prodigal sons back to the Church should they repent and desire to return!  Certainly many priests who have 'left' the priesthood have been allowed to subsequently return.

And if such a lost sheep leads many others back into the fold with him, so much the better, a wonderful example of God bringing something good out of sin. 

Whether such a penitent would make an appropriate Ordinary for the new Ordinariate however is a whole different question.  The standards expected of bishops and their equivalents in terms of jurisdiction are nicely articulated by St Paul in his first letter to Timothy, which we just happened to be the reading at Matins today in the traditional breviary:

"The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way;  for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil; moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders, or he may fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule...after all the new Ordinary for England is a very recent convert indeed!

In the meantime, please do keep praying for the conversion and successful entry into the Church of all Anglicans.

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