(from Mgr. Edwin Barnes’ blog)
Mgr Andrew Burnham (in the Catholic Herald) had some very helpful comments about Philip North and the options before him, There was one sentence, though, that worries me. He suggests that an Anglican Priest seeking to join the Catholic Church has two routes, If he comes with a group of Anglicans he might join the Ordinariate, but otherwise he must use the Diocesan route.
Now certainly ‘Anglicanorum Coetibus‘ begins by being concerned with groups approaching the Holy See; but it is not and cannot be interpreted as applying only to group submissions. If it were, then the whole Ordinariate project would have no future – yet it was not set up by Pope Benedict as just a temporary measure. Priests die, and there must be replacements for them. Slowly the Ordinariate might produce its own ordinands. Before then, individual priests (or bishops) seeking union with the See of Peter should look first to the Ordinariate. Just as any lay person with Anglican previous can seek to join the Ordinariate, so can any Anglican minister. There will be no certainty of Catholic Ordination until he has first become a Catholic. Then if he wants to be ordained into the Catholic prieshood he should first approach the Ordinary. In some cases there might not be an obvious opening for him in the Ordinariate, and he will be advised to seek help from a Catholic diocesan bishop. But there are and must surely continue to be many opportunities and needs for new priests within the Ordinariate. Some existing groups are struggling simply because their pastor is single-handed, and has many other responsibilities besides his Ordinariate group.
Not all Anglican clergy wanting to become Catholic priests have any hope, realistically, of bringing a congregation with them. There are chaplains to schools, hospitals and other institutions where such group submissions are impossible. There are parishes where at best only a handful of lay people might agree with their Vicar on this issue. The important thing is that the Ordinariates must become ever more approachable and flexible, always opening doors to those outside the Catholic Church – and to some inside it, too.