BY No Author | July 22 2011 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Ordination is an historic first

Scottish Episcopal minister becomes Catholic priest under Anglican ordinariate

IN AN historic first for Scotland, an Episcopal minister has been ordained to the Catholic priesthood under the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham at a Mass in Greenock.

Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisley, the bishop-delegate in Scotland for the ordinariate, presided at Sunday’s ordination of Fr Len Black, former minister of St Michael of All Angels Episcopal Church in Inverness.

“I am delighted to be ordaining Rev Len Black to the priesthood,” Bishop Tartaglia said before telling Scotland’s newest priest: “While you are being ordained under the ordinariate your priesthood is for the whole of the Catholic Church… and we celebrate that with you.”

The ordinariate—an initiative of Pope Benedict XVI—was set up in January by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for groups of Anglican faithful and their clergy who wish to enter into full Communion with the Catholic Church.


Fr Black’s ordination took place at St Mary’s Church in Greenock. He was presented for ordination by Ordinary Mgr Keith Newton, the former Anglican bishop who converted to Catholicism and now leads the ordinariate, in the presence of Bishop Tartaglia and Bishop Peter Moran of Aberdeen, the diocese in which Fr Black lives. Bishop Moran ordained Fr Black as a Catholic deacon on June 23 at Pluscarden Abbey prior to him entering the priesthood.

Fr Black’s wife Ruth was also present for the Sacrament on Sunday along with Mgr Denis Carlin, St Mary’s parish priest and director of Liturgical music for Paisley Diocese, and many priests from Paisley and beyond.


In his homily at the ordination Bishop Tartaglia explained the significance of the occasion, and of the ordinariate itself, which extends to Scotland.

“In my personal opinion, the ordinariate has all the hallmarks of a Pope Benedict initiative: generous, creative, imaginative and, above all, deeply Catholic,” Bishop Tartaglia said.

He added that the Holy Father had taken the lead in building bridges with Traditional Anglicans ‘making us all run to catch up.’

Prior to Fr Black’s ordination Bishop Tartaglia sent an ad clerum message to all Paisley priests providing an informative guide to the ordinariate and the way in which it extends at present to the one small Inverness-based group within the Scottish Episcopal Church.

“Although the group in Scotland is very small, when taken along with considerably more groups and clergy in England and Wales and with ordinariate arrangements coming into place soon in the US and possibly in Australia later, this begins to look like a new and visionary way of re-creating Christian unity after years of ecumenical stalemate, and it is marked by the striking originality, simplicity, and generosity of a Pope Benedict XVI initiative,” the bishop added.

Since January the ordinariate has welcomed more than 50 members of the Anglican clergy, and more than 900 lay Anglicans, in to the Catholic Church.

Married priests

At Sunday’s Mass, before the traditional homily for the ordination rite, the Paisley bishop took the opportunity to further explain the ordinariate to the congregation and the ‘novelty’ that has arisen from Fr Black’s ordination. Bishop Tartaglia said that the ordinariate was ‘extending the existing precedent’ in Scotland of welcoming suitable candidates from the Anglican clergy, married or single, to the Catholic priesthood.

Unlike unmarried men entering the priesthood, however, Bishop Tartaglia said Fr Black would not ‘be expected to accept the vow of celibacy.’

However, the bishop reassured parishioners that the Catholic Church did not allow the ‘converse’ arrangement. By way of example, Bishop Tartaglia said, in good humour, that St Mary’s parish priest ‘Mgr Carlin will not anytime soon be running off to the ordinariate to get married.’

Fr Black

As an Episcopal minister, Fr Black was the regional dean of Forward in Faith, the leading group of traditionalist Anglicans.

“The gift of ordination is a great privilege and honour and for me it is also the culmination of a long journey into full communion with the Catholic Church made possible by the generosity of Pope Benedict,” he said.

When the first plans for the ordinariate were announced in March 2010, then Canon Black told the SCO he ‘warmly welcomed’ Pope Benedict’s efforts ‘to respond to groups of Anglicans, including members of Forward in Faith, seeking to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony.’

Vote of thanks

At the end of the Mass of Ordination, Mgr Keith Newton offered a vote of thanks to all those who had taken part in the celebration, and he also thanked the Holy Father for his vision.

Mgr Newton expressed his gratitude to all the Catholic priests who had joined Sunday’s celebrations, recalling the sense of brotherhood he himself had experienced through the kiss of peace at his own ordination to the Catholic priesthood earlier in the year.

“The priests in the ordinariate want to work hand in hand with the clergy in the dioceses where they live,” Mgr Newton went on to say.

Bishop Tartaglia echoed Mgr Newton’s thanks, further extending it to the two seminarians who attended the ordination. He said he looked forward to ordaining a priest for Paisley Diocese in the future.

Fr Black then gave his first blessing as a Catholic priest before the congregation joined him for a reception in the parish hall.


Pic: Mark Campbell

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