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February 11, 2013

Anglicans swimming the Tiber, one year later

(Continued)

So far, Benedict XVI has approved two other bodies for Anglicans and those loyal to Anglican traditions and worship -- the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and the new Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia. British critics greeted these efforts with a skepticism, if not scorn, symbolized by this headline in The Times: "Rome has parked its tanks on the Archbishop of Canterbury's lawn."

In addition to the Anglican doubters and all those who accused the pope of being "an ecumenical poacher," the special arrangements built into these ordinariates have caused skepticism among some Catholics, Muller admitted. However, there is no easy way to begin the work of closing a schism that has lasted for centuries. Only displays of true unity and slow, careful growth will bring healing, he said.

"Anglicans will be interested in what kind of reception you receive and how well you are able to make a home in the Catholic Church that is more than just assimilation," Muller said. "Catholics will want to know that you are here to stay, strengthening our ecclesial cohesion rather than setting yourselves apart as another divisive grouping within the Church. It is safe to say that all eyes are now on you and your parish communities. ...

"Your decision to 'put out into the deep' in favor of the unity of Christ's Church must be developed and extended in the promotion of a culture of communion of which you are the architects."

During the first year of its work -- while leaders wrestled with thickets of legal and liturgical questions -- the North American ordinariate ordained or accepted 30 new priests, all former Anglicans, and took in 1,600 members from 36 parish communities. It is now expanding into Canada, preparing for a second wave of incoming clergy and making plans for its own chancery facilities in Houston.

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