The Church, a people gathered into the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, as “a sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all people.” Every division among the baptized in Jesus Christ wounds that which the Church is and that for which the Church exists; in fact, “such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching the Gospel to every creature.” Precisely for this reason, before shedding his blood for the salvation of the world, the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father for the unity of his disciples.
The Church. In our ongoing look at Anglicanorum Coetibus, this second paragraph speaks of what the Church was suppose to be.
John 17:20 “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain). (1994). The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition (Jn 17:20–22). New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.
Jesus never planned for the Church to be fractured, it was to be one. Imagine if our city had but one church. Imagine the resources we would have at our beck and call. Imagine the youth ministries, imagine the outreach, imagine the choir, imagine….OK, you get the idea. What a church we would have! It was my struggles in the Anglican Church that brought this idea to my mind. Here I was, struggling for every parishioner, for every donation to ministry; struggling for everything. Across the street was the Baptist Church, 10,000 strong; it seemed as if they struggled for nothing.
But to my surprise, they did. In my ministries I did from time to time cross the baptist ministers path. When we had time to talk, he would speak of how he envied our liturgy, and our sacraments. He might not have said it in as many words, but he longed for true meaning in worship. The sacramental life is real and provides meaning and structure for our praise and worship. It also provides God a path to have real and meaningful interaction with His creation. Almost like He planned it that way!
“Every division among the baptized in Jesus Christ wounds that which the Church is and that for which the Church exists; in fact, “such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching the Gospel to every creature.”
Pope Benedict XVI knew this truth. He knew that all the fractures in the Church caused those caught in the fracture harm. Calvin may have led many out of the Church, knowingly, but in 2020, many are unknowingly still perpetuating his sin. You see, there are so many caught in various denominations that do not even know that they are following a heresy. This is called “invincible ignorance”, a term traced back to Aquinas. This means that those who have not had the ability to hear the true gospel cannot be held accountable for some of the errors they perform. Let me be clear though, things like murder are not usually covered by this umbrella. God’s law is written in our hearts, and most of us that are in our right mind should not perform such sins even if we have not been evangelized. But how many Presbyterians know about Calvins teachings on predestination? Most have no idea of the heresies their church is based upon. But those who are Christians, duly baptized in the name of the triune God, and worshipping regularly in protestant churches, may not be held accountable for unknowingly following a heretic, such as Calvin. This gets complicated, but the bottom line is those that worship in the baptist church can be saved; however, would they not be better off in the fullness of the Catholic Church? Of course they would.
By the formation of the Ordinariate, Pope Benedict XVI created a method by which those who recognize the heresy and the failure of their denominations might again rejoin the one true Church. But he also took one step further
Some might ask, why not just invite them to the Catholic Church that already exists? Why create a personal ordinariate? There are many answers to this questions, and certainly those who were present at the creation of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter might emphasize different answers to this question, but I believe it was the Catholic Church bending over backwards to help so many out of their schism. Married clergy, familiar liturgy, our own communities, these are effective methods of welcoming separated brethren into the Church, as opposed to simply directing us to the local parish.
What was originally brought forth for Anglicans, has been offered to many of the protestant denominations, and so the Ordinariate is now home for laity and clergy from a diverse cross section of Protestantism.
The Ordinariate was the Catholic Church’s response to the Gospel message…”that they all might be one”.