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.

He said it was the hope of the Church many more individuals and groups of Anglicans would continue to respond to the offer in Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution.

Cardinal Ladaria said the goal of the symposium was to make better known the value of the ordinariates in the life of the Church today.   He also told the ordinariate members that now that they were “fully within” the Church, they are “also a great gift” to the Church.

Because Cardinal Ladaria had been participating in the ongoing Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, I was surprised and grateful he spent the entire day with us.


Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, Adjunct Secretary of CDF, gave the first address of the symposium on the history of Anglicanorum coetibus.  He began with a description of the visit of three bishops from the Traditional Anglican Communion, (TAC), in Oct. 7, 2007.  They brought with them a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Catholic Church all the bishops of the TAC had signed on the altar of St. Agatha’s in Portsmouth, England, at their recent synod.

On Oct. 12, 2007, the prefect of CDF,  the late Cardinal William Levada, “informed the Holy Father of this momentous visit.”

DSC08552Archbishop Di Noia noted that as things turned out the TAC “did not decide to enter as a body” and he stressed the visit of the bishops was not the first overture towards Rome, but “the visit of these three bishops” was “an incredibly moving experience” to all who participated and it “provided an important stimulus” to the eventual publication of Anglicanorum coetibus.

The archbishop then outlined the various visits from Church of England Bishops, Bishops from the Episcopal Church of the United States, that had preceded the TAC bishops.  He also spoke of the support of previous popes of Anglicanism, such as Pope Paul VI’s 1970 description of “the legitimate prestige and worthy patrimony of piety and usage proper to the Anglican Communion;”  and St. John Paul II’s confirmation of those words, despite the developments in the Anglican world that were drifting in another direction.   “Pope Francis is also very enthusiastic” about the ordinariates, and approved Divine Worship: the Missal, he noted.

Archbishop Di Noia acknowledged various approaches towards unity had also taken place over the past 500 years.   He mentioned the Oxford Movement,  St. John Henry Newman and the Tractarians.  “Would there be an ordinariate if there had been no John Henry Newman?” he asked. “I don’t think so.”

Many of the previous approaches might seem like failures, Archbishop Di Noia said, but “the situation had not yet matured.”

One aspect leading to that maturation was the state of ARCIC talks that had previously given hopeful signs, but with the ordination of women in some parts of the Anglican Communion, there were now “nearly insurmountable obstacles” to unity, he said.

The repeated requests of various groups of Anglicans, the shift in the international ecumenical landscape, “demanded a creative and fresh re-examination of the available options.”

Archbishop Di Noia said he received a letter in 2015, the year the Divine Worship Missal was published, from one of the three TAC bishops who had presented the petition in 2007.

“Never in my lifetime,” would I have dreamed to have “the chants and cadences of the Anglican liturgy be on my lips in full communion with the See of Peter.”


During the question period,  Msgr. Robert Mercer, CR, who had been among the three TAC bishops who went to Rome in 2007,  summed up the past 10 years as “Tears of Joy.”

Msgr. Mercer said he thought the unity he hoped for might take 300 years to accomplish.   He shared his sense of deep gratitude and thanksgiving for Anglicanorum coetibus that made it possible for former Anglicans to become fully Catholic while keeping the treasures of their liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions.   Msgr. Mercer, a monk from the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield, was Anglican Bishop of Matabeleland in Zimbabwe, and left to become Bishop of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) which became part of the TAC in the early 1990s. He was my bishop in Ottawa at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary when I started attending in 2000 and he played a key role in my desire to become Catholic.  It was great to see him again in Rome, and to all those in Ottawa and elsewhere in Canada who know and love him—he has not changed a bit.  Just as sharp, and witty and joyfully wise as ever—and still quite spry.

20191015_113832The next talk was by P. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, a Consultor to CDF, on the canon law implications of Anglicanorum coetibus. He described the ordinariates as “a personal particular church” where the faithful who belong to them were not under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic diocese where they live but under that of the ordinary of the personal ordinariates.   This was to prevent assimilation and loss of identity, he said.


Professor Hans-Jurgen Feulner, of the University of Vienna, and member of the The Anglicanae Traditiones working group that developed the liturgy for the ordinariates spoke on the liturgical implication of the Apostolic Constitution.   Professor Feulner is a director of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society Board.


Msgr. Mark Langham, Catholic Chaplain at the University of Cambridge, gave the ecumenical perspective.  He described Anglicanorum Coetibus as an “unprecedented and tectonic shift.”

It was a “new way of doing ecumenism” but now the ordinariates are “part of the ecclesial scenery.”

He described the ordinariates as an example of “realized ecumenism.”

All of these talks were incredibly rich, and I gave up trying to take notes after Archbishop Di Noia’s talk.  The good news is they will be published by the CDF in the near future and the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society Blog will keep you informed of how you can obtain them or find links electronically.

I think all of us who attended have come out of the experience invigorated, inspired and imbued with fresh vision for the next ten years and beyond.


The day finished off with presentations by each of the three ordinaries in a panel moderated by Fr. Walter Oxley of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

DSC08644First up was Mons. Keith Newton of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in the UK.  Buildings for the exclusive use of ordinariate communities remain a big challenge, he said.  He also spoke of the need to do more than merely preserve our patrimony but to above all preach the Gospel.  He spoke of the model of the Church of England, where everyone in your parish bounds is a pastor’s responsibility regardless of their faith.  There is the need to evangelize everyone, not just lapsed Catholics or Anglicans, he said, and to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ not merely curate the past.


Bishop Steven Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, spoke of the good foundation created by parishes of the Pastoral Provision that now have a whole generation of people raised within the Catholic Church.  His main concern is finding money to complete a House of Formation for seminarians and priests.


Mons. Carl Reid, newly-arrived in Australia as ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, read a statement by ordinary-emeritus Mons. Harry Entwistle about the small ordinariate communities spread across a thinly-populated by huge land mass where it is necessary to fly in order to visit most of them.   Mons. Reid honored Mons. Entwistle with applause for his role in leading the Australian ordinariate since its foundation.  The biggest need in Australia is priests, he said, because many of the communities are led by men in their 80s.

Here are some more pictures from the event.


DSC08563Mons. Harry Entwistle, ordinary-emeritus of Austrlia and Mons. Keith Newton

DSC08562Mons. Carl Reid with Fr. Ed Tomlinson who most of us know through his Tunbridge Wells Ordinariate blog.


DSC08567Two Chair of St. Peter seminarians now studying in Rome above:  Patrick McCain on the far left, and Roberto Brunel, second from the right.

Next to Patrick is Fr. Richard Kramer, the Chair of St. Peter’s vocations director; then Bishop Lopes.  On the end is Fr. Joseph Sigur, priest of the diocese of Beaumont and bi-ritual (Roman born & Byzantine faculties).

DSC08559Josue Vásquez-Weber, Bishop Lopes executive assistant, is in the foreground wearing the pink shirt.  And behind him is Fr. James Bradley, a priest of the UK ordinariate, and also a blogger at Thine Own Service and well-known to us across the pond.

It’s been a great time of fellowship and pilgrimage here in Rome.


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

  1. I’m ecstatic that the symposium brought participation at such a high level and that all of the presentations were so substantive. I look forward to reading the proceedings!



  2. pls. help the Philippines to established our own Personal Ordinariate! Anglican yraditon is growing here. as a former Episcopalian who is now a confirned Catholic here is much of pastoral need.


    • Hmmm….

      It’s not clear that the Philippines would have a critical mass of former Anglicans and former Anglican clergy who have come, or would come, into the Catholic Church in sufficient numbers to form an ordinariate from scratch. The best way to proceed probably would be to gather those who live in sufficiently close proximity to one another into discernment groups that could petition to become extraterritorial communities of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross. As these communities grow in number, size, and stability, they could constitute a deanery of that ordinariate that could subsequently spin off as a separate ordinariate for the Philippines.



    • To follow up on this, the July 2019 “Musings of the Ordinary Emeritus” published on the web site of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross makes explicit mention of an extraterritorial “pro-community” in the Philippines. I realize that the Republic of the Philippines is a country spread across many islands in a rather substantial swath of the Pacific and that this “pro-community” might or might not be near you, but you can contact the ordinariate for further information about the existing “pro-community” and/or about starting another “pro-community” in your area.

      There is one nuance of which you should be aware. The Divine Worship liturgical books promulgated for use of the ordinariates and the remaining “pastoral provision” community here in the United States (St. Athanasius, Boston, MA) are currently available only in English, the ordinary form of the Roman Rite is the only option for liturgical celebrations in any other language within an ordinariate community.



  3. Thank you for the interesting article below, did you see the Canoisation of John Henry Newman last Sunday in Rome. I was fortunate to have watthed it on EWTN / SKY TV and also went to a meeting about the new Saint at St John’s Cathedral Norwich. JH Newman was a wonderful man who had a real struggle on his path to the Catholic church, but it was what he wanted and needed to do and ‘God knew what He was about ‘ and the personal struggle was his path to true Divinity and his destiny. Love and prayers Mrs Jo Sparkes Mattishall Norfolk UK

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


  4. Thank you Deborah for all of your assistance in making this Symposium a great success as well as for providing these excellent photos. Fr. Walter Oxley


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