Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ordinary prognostications

Before the New Year begins, I usually do some prognostications. In the realm of Anglican interest would be the appointment of an ordinary for the establishment of an Anglican Ordinariate in the United States on January 1. Since I supposed the announcement will be made just before the new year, I wanted to get this post out before then.

Anglicanorum Coetibus indicates that former Anglican bishops would be the most likely candidates for ordinary, but not necessarily so. There are six TAC bishops who are joining the ordinariate. Of those, perhaps Archbishop Louis Faulk could serve as a transitional figure to get things off the ground until a more permanent ordinary could be appointed. He might be a good choice given that his ministry was occupied in building up the continuing Anglican movement and leading it toward reconciliation with the Holy See (on the other hand, some might think that he would be a bad choice for precisely the same reason). What I'm not sure about is his age and health (he will turn 77). Faulk is retired now, and may not be up to the task.

Four bishops of the Episcopal Church became Roman Catholics in recent years. Two of those converts became reverts--Bishops Clarence Pope and Daniel Herzog. The other two have now been ordained as Catholic priests, Fathers Jeffrey Steenson and John Lipscomb. Of those two, Steenson is the more accomplished with an Oxford doctorate in theology. Interestingly, Pope and Steenson visited with Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II in the early 1990s to propose the establishment of a structure for Anglicans in the Catholic Church that was very similar to what eventually was established with Anglicanorum Coetibus. The Bovina Bloviator seems confident it will be Steenson.

In choosing an ordinary, preference is given for Anglican bishops, but he does not necessarily have to be one. And there are many former Anglican/Episcopal priests now serving as priest in Roman Catholic dioceses throughout the country. Of these, Fr. George Rutler is (like Steenson) the most theologically accomplished and has many years of pastoral experience on both sides of the Tiber. He is also unique in being unmarried and if chosen to be the ordinary, would be ordained to the episcopate. It might in itself be worth having at least one of the Anglican ordinaries be a bishop.

There are also priests who have been serving in the seven Anglican Use parishes and who would be able to bring those years of experience to the table. The most experienced would be Fr. Christopher Philips of Our Lady of the Atonement parish and school in San Antonio. He was instrumental in forming the Anglican Use in the first place and has been a great resource to those interested in the ordinariate throughout the country.

Another possibility is Fr. Scott Hurd, who has been the liaison for Cardinal Wuerl for the implementation of the ordinariate in this country, and there are many other unsung heroes who have been faithfully ministering as priests.

One question is whether the new ordinary will need to be a priest already. I suspect so. In England, the ordinary was received and ordained and made the ordinary right away. In that case, he was one of several Anglican bishops who converted for the establishment of an ordinariate. The situation is not the same in the US, where there have been Anglican Use parishes for years, and there is not the same need for an "all at once" approach.

So who will the ordinary be? My prognostication (which is a total guess based on no inside information whatsoever) is that it will not be anyone named above. I guess we'll find out in a matter of days.

Update: As usual, my prognostications are worth less than the paper they're written on. As everyone else anticipated, the new Ordinary for the US is Father Jeffrey Steenson. I'm sure he will prove to be a wise choice. If it's any consolation, I also predict that President Obama will be re-elected this November.

Also, just for fun, here is a magazine article from 1911 about what life will be like 100 years from now. Some of the guesses were not too far off the mark.

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