It is now coming up to 12 months since former Anglican clergy and laity left the Church of England to prepare for beingReceived into full communion with the Holy See.  So what, I wonder, are our thoughts as we reflect on this past momentous year?

The one common thing is, perhaps, that there has been no regret on our part for what took place.  True, we have had to part from church buildings that played an integral part in our own spiritual lives.  We have left behind those with whom we worshipped and socialised, although most of these friendships have continued and will be lasting.  But, if we are totally honest with ourselves, some still find it difficult to accept what we have done, with little understanding about the reasons that prompted us to do so.

I believe, passionately, that all Ordinariate members (priests and laity) have the awesome responsibility of helping others to understand and accept that, in becoming Catholics, at long last we have found what we lacked before namely, Authority.  No longer do we need to worry about what the Church believes and teaches, as it is clearly defined and accepted by the whole of the universal Catholic Church.  The late Cardinal Basil Hume said in 1993 to a group of Anglican clergy, who were exploring conversion and acceptance into the Catholic Church.... ‘Fathers, let me emphasise to you that the Catholic Church does not have an ‘a la carte menu!’ Put at its simplest and plainest, it is not a ‘Pick ‘n Mix’ faith!

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church are found many answers to the question, ‘What is Authority?'  In Chapter 3, paragraph 3, the Church is described as ‘One,’ because of her source in the Trinity of Persons, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’. It goes on to state that ‘from the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God’s gifts and of those who receive them.’ 

With this latter statement we can appreciate even more the Holy Father's thinking and creation of the UK Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.  It has enabled we former Anglicans (both priests and lay) to become fully integrated Catholics, whilst retaining what is described as ‘our Anglican Patrimony.’

The maxim, ‘believe what you like, how you like and when you like’ shows a lack of or, at best, a mere semblance of authority within a church?  Refreshingly we have found a complete and well-defined Authority within the Catholic Church, from its top (the Holy Father), down through his Bishops and the laity.  No longer do we do ‘what we like’, united as we are under the one Authority i.e. the Magisterium, whose task it is to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error.’

Father Peter Clarke. (Bristol Group).