Aide: Anglican Ordinariate Is "Prophetic Gesture"

Father Lombardi Reflects on Latest Step on Road to Unity

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ROME, JAN. 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The ordinariate for Anglicans who wish to enter the Catholic Church is "a prophetic gesture" on the road to unity.



This was the claim of Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican's press office, who made this remark on the most recent episode of the weekly Vatican Television program "Octava Dies."

On Jan. 15, in London's Westminster Cathedral, three former Anglican bishops -- Keith Newton, Andrew Burnham and John Broadhurst, were ordained priests.

Benedict XVI sent his own blessings for the occasion to the former Anglican bishops who entered to be part of the new Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which will be led by Keith Newton.

"Thus there occurred," the Vatican spokesman said, "the decisive step in the erection of the first 'ordinariate' spoken of in a November 2009 document of Benedict XVI --'Anglicanorum coetibus' -- for the Anglican pastors and faithful who desire to enter into the Catholic Church not as individuals but as groups."

"Meeting the English bishops at the end of his visit," the Jesuit recalled, "Benedict XVI spoke to them of 'a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion.'"

"On the occasion of his nomination," Father Lombardi revealed, Father Newton "thanked the Pope for his trust, his wife and his family for the support, the Church of England for everything it had given him, the Anglican primate, Rowan Williams, for the patience and kindness shown him during the course of the long and difficult journey of passage to the Catholic communion."

"In a long very spontaneous interview," Father Lombardi explained, "he recalled how the desire for union marked his whole Christian life, he recalled the profound experience of the universality of the Church on the occasion of a general audience in St. Peter's Square, he spoke of his joy as a grandfather when he was able to baptize his first grandchild during his first Mass as a Catholic priest."

"Not a sign of division," the spokesman reflected, "but a small bridge on the long road to unity. It seems to us that there is truly something new and beautiful."

"We hope," he concluded, "that the new English ordinariate and the others that follow can begin and grow in this spirit. May the Blessed Cardinal Newman, patron of the ordinariate, accompany and inspire it."