Symposium 2019 examined the amazing progress in “realized ecumenism” in 10 years

DSC08560Symposium 2019 on the historical, canonical, liturgical and ecumenical implications of Anglicanorum coetibus on its 10th anniversary took place on Oct. 15 in the aula magna of the Pontifical Gregorian University, co-hosted by the university’s canon law department and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

What an amazing event it was.  Its aim was to better acquaint the universities in Rome with the reality of the personal ordinariates for Catholics of Anglican patrimony.  Many seminarians and canon law students from around the world participated.  But for the many ordinariate priests and faithful from the United Kingdom,  the United States, Australia and Canada, the experience gave us an opportunity to see the uniqueness of this “realized ecumenism” in the history of the Church and to rejoice in how far we have come in what is, in terms of Church history, a very short time.

20191015_172335Cardinal Luis Ladaria, SJ, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith  welcomed the approximately 150 participants, describing how the recently canonized St. John Henry Newman’s journey from Anglicanism to the Catholic Church influenced the development of Anglicanorum coetibus.

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John Henry Newman, a saint of the Anglican family

John Henry Newman, the world-renowned convert from Anglicanism and founder of the Oxford Movement, was declared a saint today by Pope Francis in Rome. He is now the first non-martyr Englishman to be canonized since the Reformation. Not only is he a confessor, he may well one day even be declared a Doctor of the Church.

6F60FE0E-5F72-4D83-B113-631D280934CDToday is a day of celebration by both Anglicans and Catholics. Prince Charles has written an article in Osservatore Romano, which was published in abbreviated form in the Times as well. As His Royal Highness writes, “As we mark the life of this great Briton, this great churchman and, as we can now say, this great saint, who bridges the divisions between traditions, it is surely right that we give thanks for the friendship which, despite the parting, has not merely endured, but has strengthened.”

Jacob Rees Mogg has an article of his own on Cardinal Newman out today, writing “The creation of a new saint is important because it keeps alive the hope of salva­tion for all.”

4A6E0DF7-0580-49C0-941D-5F3E100D9689Much has been and will be written about the life and legacy of John Henry Newman, but suffice it to say here that, for those of us Catholics of the Anglican tradition, today is a day of rejoicing as a member of our Anglican family – and patron of our cherished ordinariates through which we have become Catholic – is recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint, interceding for us in Heaven.

As Newman wrote in response to a proposal by Ambrose Philip de Lisle for an Anglican Uniate Church (akin to the Anglican ordinariates that Providence held in store), “Nothing will rejoice me more than to find that the Holy See considers it safe and promising to sanction some such plan….” Thanks be to God for the life, ministry, and ongoing influence of John Henry Newman.

St. John Henry Newman pray for us!

DSC08531A beautiful canonization Mass today in St. Peter’s Square.  What I especially loved were the long periods of silence.  Tens of thousands of people silent in communion before God, with God, in St. Peter’s Square.  Amazing.



Here’s Bishop Steven Lopes as he processed from St. Peter’s.

St. John Henry Newman, pray for us.  I imagine I will have much to say about Newman and the development of doctrine, on conscience, and on education in the coming days, but right now I want to upload some photos, both of the canonization and some of our ordinariate folks in Rome right now.   I have more pictures on my phone, so more later.


Msgr. Robert Mercer has a policy of never smiling in photos, but I think I did get some.  Above he is shown with Fr. Bernard Sixtus, an ordinariate priest in South Wales and a member of the board of directors of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society.

I met Msgr. Mercer this morning at 8 a.m. at the priests’ residence where he is staying and we walked together to the Hotel Michelangelo where we met Msgr. Carl Reid, Msgr. Entwistle, Nigel McBain, a seminarian from Australia, and Fr. Tad Oxley of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

DSC08511Fr. Oxley greeted Bishop Lopes as we got to the area outside the sacristy of  St. Peter’s.

DSC08510We also got a chance to say hello to Bishop Robert Barron.


On the eve of the canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman


The day started with Divine Worship Mass at a chapel in the North American College with Bishop Steven Lopes.

DSC08433With him, was a group of pilgrims and clergy from Our Lady of Walsingham, our cathedral parish in Houston.  Nigel McBain, a seminarian from Australia, was the cantor and what a beautiful voice he has!  It was great to meet all these folks.

Msgr. Carl Reid had just arrived after a long flight from Australia.  So, Nigel and Msgr. Carl and I went to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith so they could get instructions and tickets etc. for tomorrow’s canonization, then we went out to lunch.

After that, Msgr. Carl and I took a cab to the Angelicum for the Symposium on Newman the Prophet: a Saint for our Time.


My brain is too full of the rich discourses by George Weigel on “Lead Kindly Light: the story of a saint; Archbishop Bernard Longley on “Thoughtful belief in a secular age; The Grammar of Assent;” with a response from Sr. Catherine Joseph Droste, OP.

DSC08469Tracey Rowland, a member of the International Theological Commission and on the faculty of the University of Notre Dame in Australia spoke on Newman’s Idea of a University: Catholics in Modern Education with a response from Fr. Guy Nicholls, Cong. Orat.   She is a splendid theologian.

DSC08504Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP of Sydney, Australia spoke on Conscience, Relativism and Truth: The Witness of Newman.  Thomas Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute in Washington, D.C. responded.

So interesting to hear what Newman believed about conscience—that it was the heart of God speaking to the heart of man and how the understanding of conscience has become corrupted, even in the Church.

Caught up with Fr. John Hodgins from our Toronto ordinariate parish of St. Thomas More at the symposium.


Among the people at the symposium:    The Papal Posse from Raymond Aroyo’s The World Over on EWTN:   Fr. Gerald Murray and Robert Royal.

Fr. Z was there, too.  I didn’t get a picture, but I did thank him for his blog.

Also, Jackie Ottaway and Ronald Crane, the co-editors of The Portal were there.  Expect a story on the symposium in the next edition.  Here they are with Gill Newton (on the right), the wife of Msgr. Keith Newton, who was also there.


Msgr. Newton got waylaid by a reporter from the Catholic Herald.

DSC08454As the event drew to a close, there was a reception in the courtyard, and I got to meet Joanna Bogle, a columnist and writer from the U.K.   Very interesting and entertaining.  It was too dark for pictures by then.

Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson was there, too.  Great to see him again.  Tried to talk him into visiting Canada again and having his trip coincide with our Anglican Tradition in the Catholic Church Conference in Toronto Nov. 15-16.   Register now!

Preparations for Anglicanorum coetibus at 10 symposium

20191010_191244I have been in Rome for a couple of days in advance of Symposium 2019 marking the 10th Anniversary of Anglicanorum coetibus. 

20191011_095948_HDR (1)Today, I went to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to put together conference folders for the some 166 attendees.  The interest in this has been phenomenal, and the symposium on Tuesday, Oct. 15,  co-sponsored by the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Canon Law department, will now take place in the largest hall at the university.

It is interesting that probably the largest number of married priests in the Latin Rite will descend on Rome in the coming days, for the canonization of Cardinal Newman and for the symposium at the same time the Synod on the Amazon takes place, with many arguing for ordaining married men. Continue reading

Retiring from Catholic journalism

IMG_4962eAs of Sept. 30, I have officially retired from my contract writing for Canadian Catholic News.

On Monday, Oct. 7 some friends honored me with a retirement party at a downtown restaurant.

Here is a picture of me with my former boss Jim O’Leary, co-chair of CCN and editor and publisher of the Catholic Register in Toronto. I don’t know why he has a halo, but I digress.

It’s been a wonderful 15 years.  I learned a great deal from all the people I interviewed over the years.  It’s their words and stories I shared with the public.  I am so grateful for all of them and for the wonderful opportunities I have had.

IMG_4959eJohanne Brownrigg, formerly of Campaign Life Coalition, organized the small gathering  that brought together a number of people who were my sources over the years, both Catholic and evangelical, in everything from life issues, to religious freedom court challenges, family and social justice.   And the two co-founders of the Spiritual Motherhood of Priests, of which I am a member as of 2015.  Thanks to Bob Du Broy for the photos!

IMG_4960ePeter Stockland of Convivium Magazine, my first journalist friend when I moved to Ottawa in 1989 spoke a few words, remembering the days I would go as an evangelical to a weekly lunch of conservative Catholics.




Last Monday was the first (except for a rare holiday Monday) where I was not strapped to the chair in front of my computer pumping out one story after another.

I will still be freelancing from time to time, but not at the same relentless pace.   Now I will have more time free to be more actively involved in the mission of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society.

To that end, I leave for Rome today for events around the canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman on Sunday.

Fr. Jack Barker and the early history of our movement

IMG_0156As we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Anglicanorum coetibus this year with our conference Anglican Tradition in the Catholic Church Nov. 15-16 in Toronto, it’s good to remember the Apostolic Constitution did not drop from the sky into Pope Benedict XVI’s imagination without any grounding or preparation.

Anglicanorum coetibus had its roots in the Pastoral Provision of 1980 and it had its pioneers who were on the forefront of ensuring Anglican tradition and common identity would have its place in the Catholic Church.

One of those pioneers is Fr. Jack Barker, who will be our keynote speaker in Toronto.  You will not want to miss his talk!  He has told us he will share information that has not been released in the public domain previously.

Fr. Barker has written a history of the Pastoral Provision that is well worth reading to remind us how far we’ve come.  It also shows how much remains the same! Continue reading