Monday 22 November 2010

The Ordinariate will help Catholic pro-lifers challenge the status quo

I am delighted by the news that five Anglican bishops and 50 Anglican clergy are in the first wave of people who wish to join the Ordinariate for former Anglicans established by Pope Benedict within the Catholic Church. As I said last December, I have no doubt that part of the impact of the Ordinariate will be greatly to strengthen Catholic witness on pro-life matters. Keith Newton, the Anglican bishop of Richborough, has been reported as saying that among his motivations for leaving the Church of England is that in the Church of England:
"There has been a more lax attitude towards moral issues. The whole question of blessing gay marriage – there is a lot of pressure for that to happen in the Church of England – abortion, and life and death issues."
I am particularly grateful for the pro-life witness of Archbishop John Hepworth (pictured), the primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), which has sought to join the Ordinariate. In July last year Dr Hepworth wrote:
"To procure the death of an unborn child is a heinous crime against the most defenceless person".
And in December last year, Dr Hepworth wrote, at the start of the Octave of the Holy Innocents:
"[L]et us take clear sight of the martyrs who are our Octave companions. Their echoes are all around us, in the destruction of innocent life, in the failure of episcopal teaching..."
I am unsurprised to learn that there is resistance within the Catholic establishment in England to the prospect of pro-life former Anglicans being given a special place within the Catholic Church. Tom Wright, the retired Anglican bishop of Durham, said in an interview earlier this month:
"Many of the Roman Catholic bishops that I know in England were not terribly happy at the thought that they might have to administer this kind of whole extra wrinkle on top of the complicated structure they've already got, and I did hear one Roman Catholic priest - how representative I don't know - saying we've got quite enough traditionalists in our own Church without having all yours as well."
Dr Wright's comment rings true. Catholic bishops in England and Wales sometimes leave the impression that are more like company managers concerned with admnistration than spiritual leaders concerned with saving lives and souls from the culture of death. As Cardinal-elect Raymond Burke said in his landmark speech in Rome last month, it is absolutely essential that the Catholic Church is led and run by bishops and priests who preach, teach and obey Magisterial teaching on pro-life and pro-family issues.

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