We should be at the ecumenical table

The Catholic Herald has a story up about how Msgr. Newton, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was “excluded” from Reformation events last week.

In a letter to the Catholic Herald, Fr Ed Tomlinson asks why Mgr Keith Newton, who serves as ordinary of the group for former Anglicans, was not invited to be “part of the numerous ‘reformation celebrations’ taking part in the ecumenical landscape this week”.

Fr Tomlinson also wants to know why Mgr Newton had not been asked “to join the ARCIC [Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission] conversations despite his obvious importance as a former bishop of the Church of England now leading a body, the ordinariate, whose entire purpose is to enable Anglicans to become Catholic while retaining a distinctly English spirituality/patrimony”.

Well, frankly, any Reformation “celebrations” I would hope any of our Ordinaries would be glad they weren’t invited, though the ones I know of were commemorations and involved repentance, not glasses raised in a toast to Martin Luther.  In commemorations, why weren’t our Ordinaries invited.

Also, I think representatives who were former Anglicans now Catholic in the Ordinariates would be perfect for ARCIC.

They know both sides of the Tiber, as it were, and what worked in terms of unity, and what discouraged it.

But I think we in the Ordinariates represent “you-come-in-ism,” a view that Christian unity is attained by one’s realizing the Catholic Church is right, and Christian unity involves becoming Catholic.  That kind of ecumenism is not popular right now.

And it hasn’t been popular for a long time.  Interesting,  Fr. Louis Bouyer, a convert from Lutheranism, and who knew personally many of the great Protestant theologians, was also excluded from ecueminical talks around the Second Vatican Council.   A big loss to true ecumenism.

I have said before I have a love/hate relationship with the word ecumenism.  I hate it when it seems to imply a lowest-common-denominator kind of Christian unity, one that requires no deep conversion, that sets aside truth claims as unimportant, and instead stresses what we can do together on the social justice front.

I love ecumenism when it seriously seeks out Christian unity, starting with the truth claims we hold in common and honestly dealing with the areas where we still are out of communion.  It is the Holy Spirit who brings unity and even within the Catholic Church, we need His help.

Also, I feel more “in communion” in a spiritual sense with many devout Protestants who can’t share in our Catholic communion and out of respect would not try to than I do with many progressivist Catholics who do not seem to revere the Jesus revealed to us in Scripture, nor Scripture for that matter.

In the six years since the creation of the ordinariate, Fr Tomlinson says, “we have been routinely undermined by those in authority over us. Not a single church has been gifted to the ordinariate despite several closing each month. Why are so many of our clergy used to plug diocesan gaps instead of being enabled to flourish within the vision to which we were called?”

The Ordinariate confirmed to the Catholic Herald that Mgr Newton had not been invited to any ecumenical events, but added that it was “not aware of anything he would have expected, or wished, to have been invited to”.

They said that Fr Tomlinson’s letter is “an entirely personal opinion and in no way reflects the views of the Ordinary or of the leadership of the Ordinariate”.



2 thoughts on “We should be at the ecumenical table


  2. A minor historical note: Those who are in the Ordinariate, generally speaking, wish a union in effect before 1535 in one Catholic Church. The present Anglicans are heirs to the Protestantism of Edward VI via Cromwell, Latimer, etc. I see no reason to “celebrate” the reformation though a fraternal acknowledgment in the proper circumstance could be appropriate. A false ecumenism pretending some sort of commonality that does not yet exist, serves no one well and the absence of those like Frs. Tomlinson and Bouyer seems appropriate.


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