BY ANNA ARCO
THE BISHOP of Portsmouth has told the faithful that he welcomes the Personal Ordinariate despite initial misgivings.
Writing to his diocese in his Lenten pastoral letter, Bishop Crispian Hollis said that he had initial misgivings over the Pope’s initiative for Anglicans wanting to come into full communion with Rome but that he had come to see it as “a unique moment”.
He said: “As Catholics, we are privileged to be playing our part in this historic development in the life of the Church.” The letter was read out in parishes the day after Bishop Hollis ordained the former Anglican Bishop of Richborough, Edwin Barnes, as the fifth priest-member of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in St John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth.
Speaking of the three ordinariate groups in his diocese, Bishop Hollis said: “The development of the ordinariate over the last few months has attracted a certain amount of comment and question and I understand that. All I can say is that I have been dealing with [three Anglican] groups and their priests during this time and I have been deeply impressed by their sincerity and their desire for full com munion with us. The ordinariate represents new ground for all of us and the Rite of Election gives us all the opportunity to welcome our new-found brothers and sisters into the life of the diocese and to do everything we can to make them feel at home.” He added: “After Easter, those among them who have been Anglican priests will continue their preparation for ordination to the priesthood and I will be ordaining the three of them towards the end of June. I believe that they will very soon become valued members of the Church and I know that they will receive a warm welcome from all. Their joining us is an opportunity for us all to share gifts and faith with each other and they deserve our respect as they truly put their trust in the Lord who is ‘their rock and their stronghold’.” Bishop Hollis said that relations with the Church of England in the diocese had not been damaged as a result of the ordinariate. He said he was “greatly impressed and edified by the way in which the bishops of those three dioceses have reacted with great generosity and kindness”.
Close to 50 Church of England clergymen have resigned in order to join the ordinariate, and there are believed to be as many as 1,000 lay people taking up the Pope’s offer. At Fr Barnes’s ordination last Saturday Bishop Hollis preached as well as leading the ordination. He said: “One of the many moving aspects of your ordination to the diaconate, Edwin, a couple of weeks ago, was the demonstrably humble approach to the Sacrament of Orders. After all, you had worked as a deacon, a priest and a bishop in the Church of England for many years, and yet, here you were, as it were, starting all over again at the bottom of the ministerial ladder. I have no doubt that this was hard for you, but at the same time, there is a real sense of continuity and, indeed, fulfilment, in your journey towards ordination to the priesthood today. “I believe that today is a real homecoming for you. Throughout your priestly life, you have sought and searched for authority in your ministry – the authority of Christ of which today’s Gospel speaks. I believe that your search is now over and today you submit yourself willingly and joyfully to the authority of Christ within the Christ-given authority of the Catholic Church.” He added: “You are being ordained here today as a priest in full communion with the Catholic Church. You are ordained to serve the whole Church.”