Tuesday 17 May 2011

Heavy Day at Allen Hall

My, we've been worked hard today. First there was our homework; studying ethical questions with the help of Donum Vitae (produced by the CDF) and Familiaris Consortio of John Paul II. To guide us through these documents, and lead us beyond them, we had the help of Fr John Wilson (left) of the Diocese of Leeds (and formerly of Ushaw College). Many of us former Anglican clergy are married, so the questions raised were particularly personal to us and our families. For me, the pastoral approach of successive Popes in considering these matters is what predominated.

Then, we had our Ordinary with us - he celebrated Mass with us at the end of the afternoon. (here at lunch with the Archbishop)

The icing on this very rich layer-cake was a visit by our Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nicholls, who spoke to us and answered questions in the half-hour before lunch. It is good to know that the Ordinariate is so high on the Archbishop's agenda that he found time to visit us in this way (and there will be a team photograph to prove it).

Msgr Keith also spoke briefly, comparing and contrasting his experiences of the House of Bishops of the Church of England and the meeting of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. From my own time in office I would agree that the Anglican meeting was not one to which I ever looked forward with enthusiasm. Clearly his experience with the Catholic Bishops in Leeds last week was an altogether happier occasion.

These sessions at Allen Hall are proving hugely valuable for all of us newly or soon-to-be ordained. It is good to be looking in some depth at questions of human life and reproduction which seemed to occupy so little thought in our former communion.

To be able to direct the faithful to authoritative summaries of the Church's teaching is a great gift - to be able to explain them clearly to our people, in the confessional or in sermons, is a huge responsibiity. The informal discussion we have over meals or in the short breaks between lectures are very important for the creation of a coherent pastorate within the Ordinariate. Though it is an expensive business getting up to London week by week, it is not something I would want to miss.

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