21 March 2017

Our Lady of the Atonement and the future of the Ordinariates

Brilliant News!!! The Holy See has directed that the Texan parish of Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio is, with effect from today, part of the Ordinariate of the Chair of S Peter, the American Ordinariate.

'Atonement' was the first (in 1983) of the parishes set up to perpetuate within the Roman Unity groups adhering to their Anglican Liturgy, Spirituality, and theological tradition. It was spectacularly successful, under its dynamic and charismatic Pastor Fr Christopher Phillips.

When the Ordinariates were set up, the position of parishes adhering to the 'Anglican Use', but operating as units within ordinary dioceses, became anomalous. After all, the Holy See had set up the Ordinariates specifically to include such communities.

The Archbishop of San Antonio was understandably anxious to keep such a vibrant parish and its academy within his own diocese and jurisdiction. But he is an honourable man. So he made it very clear that he would ensure the continuation at the Atonement of the provisions made by the Holy See for Anglicans who had entered the Catholic Church upon a certain understanding.

But that proposed arrangement misses the point. It treats the Anglican Use as merely something provided as a condescending kindness for ex-Anglicans or their descendants. This would mean that the Use could die out when the original 'converts' had died, unless new converts from Anglicanism had continued to trickle in so as to keep the arrangement on a life-support machine.

That is quite simply not how things can be allowed to be in a Church which takes Mission in any way seriously. A flourishing and orthodox Christian community will inevitably attract others, particularly those from the peripheries of the Church, where people may have a residual association with Catholicism but have grown disillusioned or alienated within the 'mainstream' or 'diocesan' Church.

It is a natural suspicion that Gerhard Cardinal Mueller has been involved in this wise decision, which is good news not only for the Atonement but for all members of the three Ordinariates. It demonstrates that the See of S Peter is as committed to Pope Benedict's bold ecumenical experiment as ever it was. We were not 'taken up' just so that we could be 'dropped'!

Four cheers and more for his Eminence!

Hooray for the wise guidance Bishop Lopes has given to his Ordinariate!

Ut unum sint!! 


Banshee said...


I feel for the archbishop, but there is absolutely a case for recognizing the legitimate place of Atonement being with the Ordinariate. If you love something, let it go grow into itself.

Of course, it would be totally appropriate for the Atonement folks to be generous in the use of their freedom, and to be sure to team up with Roman/Latin Rite parishes as well as with Ordinariate ones. But they also need to be free to be Ordinariate, and now they are.

Woody said...

This is also a very encouraging sign of how much clout Bishop Lopes has in Rome. May God grant him many years!

dontex said...

Adds new meaning to: "God Bless Texas"

peregrinusto said...

Well said, Father.

As wonderful as the news for OLA and our friend, Fr Phillips, may be, it is even more encouraging to know that the Holy See is blowing wind into our sails. Deo gratias indeed.

peregrinusto said...

. . . btw it is good to know some of our cardinals have held onto their maniples!

Gil Garza said...

Many tears of joy were shed tonight by our parish family with the return of our beloved pastor and our new Bishop! Our Lady never disappoints!

Confitebor said...

Our Lady has done it again -- and my, how she does work quickly!

Banshee said...

That is the bit that got in my craw, though. It was purely unfair that the pastor was treated like that, especially since it affected his wife and the parish. If you are going to have married priests, potentially with kids, in a diocese, you really should not jerk them around like that. (Of course, all priests should be given kind and fair treatment by their bishops; but sheesh, you would think it would help bishops be fair.)

Athelstane said...

This is wonderful news - and frankly, not news I ever expected to hear. The deck seemed very loaded against OLA and Fr Philips. But not only did it happen, but it happened, as Charles Wilson put it, with "blinding speed" by Vatican standards.

And at a stroke, this just about doubles the number of parishioners in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter - unless I am mistaken on my numbers. It will also bring in the other surviving Pastoral Provision Anglican Use parish, St Athanasius in Boston.

Matthew M said...

Father H.
Glad the news is spreading. I was extremely upset when I read what was happening. So this morning when I read the news I almost cried. I don't live in Texas and there are no Anglican Ordinariate parishes or groups around me in Washington State. The closest is in Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. If my health improves and my finances get better I hope to visit. I also would like to go to Texas to visit other parishes.

Unknown said...

When you say "The Archbishop of San Antonio was understandably anxious to keep such a vibrant parish and its academy within his own diocese and jurisdiction".... you are being very, very kind. Unfortunately in their dealings with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter this one- man- ship as been the standard of care and the more dislike the Diocese Bishop has toward the Ordinariate, the more this is so ! This could be the dominant reason why their is not that more movement toward incorporated communities and as well individuals within this newly formed sub-set. This was made glaringly clear to me and others when the gracious and so holy Benedictine Prior, the Rev. Kevin La Mare attempted to come in as one into the Diocese of Portland, Maine ... but he was rejected at every turn both by the involved Bishops and as well as Ordinariate Administration under Steenson. Even the interference of the gifted Catholic Scholar and personal friend of Father Kevin's , Monsignor Charles M. Murphy did not make any difference. At that time I who had been accepted as a member largely do I suppose to the erection of the Ordinariate Community in Massachusetts --which unfortunately was largely ignored by its ordained and now retired prient--- cancelled my membership ! The situation is just too messy and Rome must play more of a part here !

JoeTownsend said...

BUT Fr. Chris is not the pastor now. Who is it to be?