October 20, the Feast of Saint Paul of the Cross, who worked tirelessly for the conversion of England, is also the third anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's promulgation of new procedures to allow entire congregations of Anglicans to be reunited to the Catholic Church.
Much has changed over the past three years. No one would have predicted that Pope Benedict would enjoy a successful visit to the United Kingdom, much less hold a very cordial meeting with the archbishop of Canterbury. Around the world, Anglican bishops, priests, and laymen have petitioned to join the Catholic Church, and the first personal ordinariate, covering England and Wales, was established by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on January 15, 2011. Over 900 Anglican layman and 60 Anglican clergymen entered the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom at Easter 2011. Here in the United States, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established by Pope Benedict on January 1, 2012, and 18 communities have entered the ordinariate (including two in Canada).
The pace of change, and even the widespread public celebration of Pope Benedict's visit to the United Kingdom, should not have been surprising, since, as Pope Benedict himself pointed out, the true fruit of ecumenism is reunification with Rome and the visible unity of the Church.
Thus, as we prepare to mark the third anniversary of this remarkable step toward unity, I have chosen A Devout Exercise for the Unity of the Church as our novena this week. Begin praying it on October 11, to finish on the eve of the Feast of Saint Paul of the Cross.
More on the Anglican Ordinariate:
- Differences Between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism
- Pope Benedict to Anglicans: Come Home to Rome
- The End of the Anglican Communion
- Saint Paul of the Cross and the Conversion of England
- Reader Question: Anglican Converts and Married Priests
- Pope Benedict XVI: Liberal?
- The "Liturgical Pluralism" of Pope Benedict XVI