The person who left the comment didn't leave any clues as to their identity, so we cannot know if it was someone quite genuinely asking a question without any preconceptions or prejudice, or if the comment was an uncharitable attempt at a snide remark. Given that doubt, it should be made clear that the rest of this post refers to a general phenomenon, and is in no way an assault on (nor a guess at) the views of Anonymous of a few days ago.
I must confess to having been rather irritated by the question raised in the comment: I know, I should know better than that. What irritated me is that it reminded me of a habit amongst some of delighting in fantasising that the Ordinariate is somehow pointless. Those prey to this phenomenon criticise the Ordinariate as not being Anglican enough ("What's the point of it?") and yet simultaneously and no less ill-informedly criticise the Ordinariate as not being Catholic enough ("Why don't they just become 'proper' Catholics?"). Anonymous of a few days ago brought all this to mind because his or her remark seemed to imply that Ordinariate members should only be interested in the Ordinariate.
When they leave polemic aside and reflect calmly, I wonder what these people believe that those like me thought we would be signing up to when we joined the Ordinariate. I wonder what they think our motives were. They cannot seriously imagine that we wanted to create a little ghetto for disgruntled ex-Anglicans to hang about in, a ghetto in which we could ignore the rest of the Church. They must surely know that we were answering a call to Unity in the Catholic Faith, in the Catholic Church, in communion with the Successor of St Peter. No longer do we sojourn in a halfway house. They cannot be under the misapprehension that we were called upon to renounce anything of our Anglican past, they must know that indeed the contrary was asked of us, that we should bring our Anglican Patrimony with us so that this might become part of the wider treasures of the Catholic Church.
Ordinariate members are fully part of the Catholic Church, and we are full of joy to be so. We are not Ordinariate members first and somehow members of the Catholic Church second. We are delighted to have come into the full communion of the Catholic Church: joining the Ordinariate was a wonderful means of achieving this, it was not itself the goal.
We do indeed look beyond the end of our noses, and realise with great happiness that we are part of the Church, part of an "organisation" that is present around the world and has over a billion members. We are not interested in obsessing only about our little constituent part of the Catholic Church.
Ordinariate members do not (and should not) spend their time focusing solely on their own immediate environment, ignoring the wider Catholic Church around them. The shortest of trawls of Ordinariate-related blogs makes this perfectly clear. Fr Ed Tomlinson talks regularly of the joy of unity that the group of Anglicans he led out of St Barnabas Tunbridge Wells and into the Catholic Church now shares with their now fellow Catholics in Pembury, and of what has been achieved for his group by both Monsignor Newton and by the Archbishop of Southwark and his Area Bishop John Hine. Fr Edwin Barnes frequently highlights joint events with diocesan parishes, indeed one of his recent posts talked of how he had attended two Chrism Masses this year, the Ordinariate Chrism Mass and also the Portsmouth Diocesan Chrism Mass.
As Anglo-Catholics, we for many years managed to cling on to the belief that the Church of England was part of the one Universal Church, separated from the wider Church only by misfortune and accident of history. This was the vision that was shared for generations, but it was also a vision and ecclesiology that crumbled around us, a phenomenon that caused Dr Eric Mascall and many others great anguish. Now that we are undoubtedly fully part of the Catholic Church, why would anyone think that we would not rejoice in being in that wider communion, why would anyone think that we would not be interested in the Catholic Church as a whole?
Two follow-on comments :
- Criticisms of this nature are often accompanied by melodramatic sweeping comments such as ".....and I know lots of Catholics who are very worried by the Ordinariate." Well, perhaps such people do, but from personal experience, I can only say that I have encountered nothing other than joy and welcome from my fellow Catholics. Members of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group were especially touched at the support shown to the Ordinariate's First Anniversary Evensong and Benediction by members of the St James's parish congregation.
- There are some who rather mystically decree that the Ordinariate is not about Unity. Their logic escapes me entirely. It really does. Unity is about people coming together, not about finding new and exciting ways in which to split Christianity. This marvellous initiative from Pope Benedict, who is truly showing himself to be the Pope of Christian Unity, is a real gift.