New Catholic subdivision "will not be ghetto"
LONDON (Reuters) - The new Roman Catholic Church body set up to house disaffected Anglicans would not become a ghetto within the Church, the priest appointed to lead the group said on Monday.
The ordinariate, or Church subdivision, would also seek to evangelise while maintaining good relations with Anglicans, the former Church of England bishop Keith Newton told reporters.
The ordinariate, announced by Pope Benedict in 2009, allows those Anglicans opposed to women bishops, gay clergy and same-sex blessings to convert to Rome while keeping many of their traditions.
Newton said there was a danger that people would think the ordinariate an ex-Anglican ghetto within the Catholic Church, but "we want to make clear it is not."
"There are no second-class Catholics," he added.
He also said the ordinariate would not be inward-looking, and he hoped it would act as an "evangelistic tool" as part of the pope's vision for the evangelisation of Europe.
Newton, who will be known as an ordinary, was ordained into the RC Church on Saturday along with two other former CofE bishops, John Broadhurst and Andrew Burnham.
The ordinariate will let married clerics become Catholic priests, in an exception to the Vatican's celibacy rules. Married Anglican bishops who convert may be granted a special status almost equivalent to their former rank.
The personal ordinariate in England and Wales was the first in the world.
Other groups of Anglicans in Australia and North America have expressed interest in the pope's offer, and other ordinariates are expected to be established in other parts of the world.
The pope's offer caused tension between Rome and the Church of England, where many felt the announcement was handled badly and sidelined their spiritual head, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
Newton denied the ordinariate had been rushed, despite still having to resolve a number of issues, including finance, salaries and homes, as well as which churches would be used.
They are expected to be settled by Pentecost, June 12, when former Anglican priests are expected to have been ordained in the Roman Catholic Church.
Priests may have to take on other jobs to boost their income, including working as chaplains at prisons, hospitals or schools, but they would "not be expected to stack shelves at Sainsbury's," Newton said.
Two retired former CofE bishops are also expected in the first wave of converts, as well as between 50 and 60 priests and up to 30 groups of parishioners, mainly in the south of England and around York, Newton said. It is unclear how many will be in each group.
If numbers grew to 200 congregations, a second ordinariate could be created, Newton said.
The former CofE bishop of Richborough, Dover, said he wanted to keep doors open with his former colleagues, especially over issues such as shared shrines and church buildings.
"We don't want to be burning bridges down, we want to be building them," he said.
Newton said he felt no bitterness at his former Church and added that the issue of women bishops was part of a wider problem he had with the CofE claim to belong to the universal Church founded by Jesus that includes the far larger and older RC Church.
(Editing by Steve Addison)
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