Back in August 2017, in a piece for the Catholic Herald website titled ‘Let’s show High Church Anglicans they’re welcome in the Ordinariate’, Francis Phillips commented on a visit to a ‘High Church’ Anglican church and wondered why, given all the evidence of an outwardly firm Catholic faith, the folk there did not join the Ordinariate.
The following week, also on the Catholic Herald website, Andrew Sabisky proposed that aside from theological reasons there were ‘practical and immediate reasons’ why he and other Anglo-Catholics might not join the Ordinariate; he gave four such reasons.
First, he cites “flying bishops” operating “church within a church” structures as ‘growing and flourishing’, offering shelter and likely to ‘become even more powerful over time’.
This is a superficially attractive proposition but it must fail the test of communion. This particular “church within a church” comprises folk who are in communion with each other but not in communion with the organisation of which they are a part. Essentially, the smaller group is defined by dis-unity, the absence of that unity for which Jesus prayed – diversity in disunity.
The Ordinariate provides the fix to that problem: diversity in unity. The Ordinariate is a distinct part of the multifaceted thing called the Catholic Church. The Ordinariate brings into the Catholic Church those elements of the Anglican tradition that are consistent with the faith once given to the saints, as a ‘treasure to be shared’, and holds them with and for the Church within which members of the Ordinariate find unity and communion, the very thing for which Jesus prayed.