The advent of Personal Ordinariates within the Catholic Church for former Anglicans as a result of the efforts of Pope Benedict XVI through his Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus has caused some consternation among members of the Body of Christ. A large part of this consternation stems from a lack of understanding the reality that has brought these “circumscriptions” to reality, and a fear – at least in some hearts – that the only reason people were coming to Full Communion with the Catholic Church through the Ordinariates was because of what they were against.
In this short essay (it’s only 82 pages long) Aidan Nichols, op looks at some of the background to the arrival of these new structures in the Church (by which, of course, is meant the Catholic Church headed by the Successor of Peter) in four broad themes:
1. Where is the Ordinariate coming from?
2. Pope Benedict and his Vision
3. The Matter of the Liturgy
4. The Mission
While focusing predominantly on the Ordinariate established in Britain – the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham – much of what Nichols has to say is relevant to the other two Ordinariates that have thus far been established (of the Chair of Peter for the US & Canada, and of Our Lady of the Southern Cross for Australia). Yet there are parts of Nichols’ text that makes it clear that the British Ordinariate will occupy a particular place in the future life of the Church because of the particularities of the ecclesiastical history of Britain.
In any case, for those intrigued by these new entities within the Church, this book makes for an interesting first step.