Ordinariate II: an interview with Fr Marcus Stock

Following this morning's publication by the bishops of England and Wales of a detailed Q&A about the forthcoming Ordinariate - see previous post -- I sat down with the bishops' conference secretary-general, Fr Marcus Stock (pictured here with Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster) for a discussion of some of the issues.  

I began by asking Fr Marcus if he saw the Ordinariate of England and Wales as a model for future ordinariates elsewhere in the English-speaking world.

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It’s certainly the case that perhaps many of the practical issues that they have faced here will help future ordinariates abroad, but because local situations vary so much in terms of ownership of buildings, trusts, etc. -- the set-up of the Anglican Church is very different here from Canada or Australia – it always has to be adapted. It’s not an off-the-shelf model.

Will the name of the Ordinary be announced at the same time as the decree erecting the Ordinariate?

We hope it will. The decree does not contain the name of the Ordinary. The decree will come from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will be signed by Cardinal Levada, and will canonically erect the Ordinariate. The appointment of the Ordinary will come from a Bull published by the Secretariat of State and signed directly by the Holy Father. We are absolutely confident that by 15 January the decree will have been published, because the three priests have to be incardinated into something, so the canonical erection is necessary so that when they are ordained it is into the Ordinariate. The appointment of the Ordinary is not dependent on that, but we hope that by then the name of the Ordinary too will be announced.

When the three former bishops were received into the Church on 1 January, there was no pre-announcement and it was kept very quiet. [See here and here]. Later, a statement said that this was to protect their privacy. Why was it necessary to respect their privacy then but not on Saturday, when you have announced they will be ordained?

In a certain sense it still is a private family occasion – the reception afterwards is for friends and family. But ordination to the priesthood is a public event, because it is a public admission to ministry, in a way that reception into the Church is not to the same degree. And because it is associated with a historic erection of the first Ordinariate, it is clearly of public interest.  

What about the name of the Ordinariate? Will that be announced at the same time as the decree?  

Yes, because it is named in the decree.

And you don’t know what it is?

I do, but I can’t tell you.

The jurisdiction of the Ordinariate applies only to England and Wales, so if Scottish Anglicans wanted to enter the Ordinariate they would need to apply to the Scottish bishops’ conference, would they?

Yes, but to establish an ordinariate there has to be capacity within the groups applying for an ordinariate to be self-sustaining, and the indications we received from the Scottish bishops was that there aren’t sufficient groups for there to be an ordinariate there.

Was an ordinariate that included Scotland ever considered, or does an ordinariate always have to correspond to the jurisdiction of a bishops’ conference?

It always has to be within a bishops’ conference. But that doesn’t preclude groups outside that being included in that.

So a group of Scottish former Anglicans could apply to be members of the Ordinariate of England and Wales?

Yes.

And Irish, presumably?

I presume so, but that hasn’t been thought about.

But clearly the possibility of Scots doing so has been?

Yes.

On governance, will the Ordinary be able to vote at bishops’ conference meetings?

Yes.

The structures of governance envisaged for the Ordinariate –  the Governing Council, for example, reflecting the synodal traditions in Anglicanism -- how were these worked out? Who was party to the negotiations which led to them?

Those questions you would need to direct to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) …

So these were bilateral negotiations between those wanting an Ordinariate and Rome?

The discussions which took place prior to Anglicanorum coetibus were between those groups and the CDF on behalf of the Holy Father, yes.  It was very much the genius of the Holy Father.

But what about since?

There has been consultation with both the CDF and the bishops’ conference since then. The consultation was about the implementation of the norms in the specific case of the Ordinariate for England and Wales. The specifics were worked out by the bishops’ commission: Archbishop Bernard Longley, Bishop Malcolm McMahon and Bishop Alan Hope.

And they negotiated with those seeking an ordinariate?

That’s correct, yes.

And then presumably what was agreed was sent to the CDF for approval?

Yes. What’s outlined in the Q&A is what pertains initially. If there is any need to adapt them, then that will need to be decided by the Governing Council and the Ordinary of the Ordinariate after its erection.

You say that at least half the Governing Council of the Ordinariate must be composed of priests. Who are the other half?

At least half of the Governing Council must be composed of those priests voted for by the Ordinariate presbyteriate.

So the other half would be laity, religious?

Or appointed by the Ordinary. That is for the Ordinary and the Governing Council to determine.

You say that approved rites of the Anglican tradition can be used in Ordinariate parishes. There are existing ones, such as employed in Anglican Use parishes in the United States. Are new ones envisaged?

When we’re talking about Anglican patrimony we’re talking about more than the particular Missal you use for the celebration of Mass. We’re looking at a Sacramentary which would contain a range of rites, not just the celebration of Mass but celebrations of weddings or funeral rites, house blessings, and so on, which reflect that Anglican patrimony. Another major one would be the derogation from the Roman Breviary, to make more use of traditional Anglican morning prayer and evensong. So there’s a whole range of areas of liturgy that might be accommodated in a Supplementary which reflects that Anglican patrimony. I don’t know, but I don’t envisage that this would take the form of a multiplication of rites; I imagine that there would be one rite agreed for all the English-speaking ordinariates of the world.

And that has all to be worked out, and that will take a long time.

And just as the new translation of the Missal has to be agreed by all the conferences of ICEL, so this would need to be approved by all the Ordinaries and governing councils of all the ordinariates –

Which don’t yet exist.

Which don’t yet exist. So we are talking here of many years.

In the meantime, what do they use?

In the meantime provision will be made for them to use the Book of Divine Worship that currently exists and such adaptations as they apply to the Congregation of Divine Worship to use as an interim measure.

But you’re stressing that Anglican patrimony is more than just liturgy.

What we’re trying to emphasize that it would be wrong to define the Ordinariate by Anglican worship; it’s more than that, it’s about a whole range of pastoral practice, the relationship between the pastor and his people …

And indeed, structures of governance, which are the real innovation here. There will be a number of former Anglicans being received at Easter; Bishop Alan Hopes said he couldn’t say how many until they had applied. Have they now applied?

The applications are being received at present. But we won’t get the majority of names until the beginning of Lent, so we don’t know numbers. We know that there are about 35 groups which have indicated a firm intention of entering the Ordinariate, which corresponds to about 50 clergy. But those numbers come with a health warning in that they were from November, so they could have increased since then. Or decreased. Some of the groups are small – 15-20; others are quite substantial: 30-40 or more. Because it’s an individual decision, it’s hard to give figures until people actually apply.

The majority of ordinariate clergy are being ordained at Pentecost. What will the Ordinariate members who have been received at Easter do between then and Pentecost?

They will be provided for at the local Catholic church where they are being prepared and formed.

Are they being instructed in diocesan parishes with others on the RCIA?

No, separately.

Archbishop Vincent says he has no idea if the Ordinariate will prove to be a temporary phenomenon, or whether it will take on a life of its own and have a long-lasting impact on the Church. There are a lot of Anglicans who are watching and waiting, some of them on the outcome of the proposed legislation ordaining women as bishops that comes before the General Synod in two years’ time. Is it your sense that the next two years are the crucial ones for the Ordinariate?

It’s a difficult question to answer in that we don’t know what’s going to develop in the Church of England. But what I would say is that for most of those coming into the Catholic Church that isn’t the single-issue reason for their journey. The clergy and the people coming have long hoped for corporate reunion between the Catholic and the Anglican Church; that has been their genuine desire and hope. Their move is a recognition that institutionally that is less likely now than it was before; and if further institutional measures were taken by the Church of England which make corporate reunion even more distant and unlikely, that would make them think further about being received. So it’s not so much the ordination of women as bishops; it’s about what institutionally precludes full communion being restored between the two Churches.

So the bigger picture is not, say, the provision by the Church of England of structures to accommodate opponents of women bishops, but rather this is a moment, like the early 1990s, when people realise that unity isn’t going to happen.

I think people have been asking searching questions about whether there really is a desire for institutional unity. The Holy Father has made it clear that in the mind of the Catholic Church that desire and goal are still there.

And of course the Pope has spoken about the Ordinariate as a prophetic gesture of ecumenism which enables the sharing of gifts of each tradition. Presumably the hope is that Catholics, too, learn about Anglican gifts?

Indeed, if it’s a genuine sharing of gifts, some elements of that Anglican patrimony will be something that in time becomes part of the life and worship of the Catholic Church.

 

 

 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Jim McCrea
6 years 9 months ago
I think that a great deal of care should be taken before setting up an Ordinariate in Ireland.  That might encourage a larger number of RC priests to the Anglican side of the Liffey than wanted.
These things can come back to bite you in the auld sod, don't you know.
ed gleason
6 years 9 months ago
An Irish Ordinariate? and because my Grandparents were from Ireland I can get Irish citizenship too. I see big changes in my future!!  (-:

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