A Lutheran Ordinariate?

Some of you might recently have seen this article, in which Cardinal Koch was asked about the possibility of a Lutheran Ordinariate along the same lines as the Anglican Ordinariate now being established around the world.

Some have asked for my thoughts on the matter.

For a start you can hear Cardinal Koch’s hesitancy over the idea. As he says, it has to be something that comes as a request from Lutherans, not something Rome or the Holy Father sets up without cause.

Three specific thoughts on how this might relate here in Australia at least:

1) The Anglican Ordinariate was an answer to divisions within the Anglican Church, especially where a small but sizable number of both priests and lay people desired communion with the Bishop of Rome. In Australia, there is no formal division among Lutherans over the issues that have divided Anglicans, in particular issues of sexuality and issues of women’s ordination. Nor is there present any real desire (as far as I can see) among Australian Lutherans for communion with the Catholic Church, except in a vague “hoped for future” kind of way.

2) The Anglican Ordinariate idea worked because the Anglicans who formed the Ordinariates were already (more or less) Catholic in their doctrines. Distinctively Anglican doctrine was not a part of their “spiritual patrimony” as Anglicans in the same sense that some of their polity and liturgical forms were. With Lutherans, apart from hymns and Bach, it is precisely the doctrine that identifies them AS Lutheran. If they were to adopt the Catholic Faith (as in the Catechism) there would be precious little “Lutheran” about them any more – except perhaps in the sense of Lutheran spirituality (which is the case for me!).

3) One of the reasons the Anglican Ordinariate was necessary was because the dialogue process between Catholics and Anglicans internationally was frustrating the hopes of some Anglicans hoping for future communion with the Bishop of Rome. That isn’t the case with the Lutheran Catholic dialogue, at least not here in Australia. One might hold out hopes for full communion yet in the future between the LCA and the Catholic Church if the dialogue and relationship continues in the positive way in which is currently is.

(An example of this was the excellent fellowship dinner and conversation held here in Melbourne between Lutheran and Catholic pastors, priests and theologians on the 31st of October this year – the 495th anniversary of the publication of the 95 Theses).

Of course, the situation is quite different in other parts of the world. So, who knows? There may be some Lutherans in the world who could find that the idea of being in communion with the Bishop of Rome via a “Lutheran Ordinariate” is seen as something desirable.

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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2 Responses to A Lutheran Ordinariate?

  1. Matthias says:

    You are right and Pastor Mark would be happy you ahev written this however his blog article where he quotes St paul’s letter to Timiothy ” Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,” is wrong . Yes he is referring to the chaste life that married priests from ordinariates and deacons must live according to the Church Canon law,however having being brought up in the Dispensationalist diaspora he is wrong if he thinks this applies to the catholic church. For it refers to apostates,those who deny Christ and the Trinity and the Incarnation. Probably more applicable to the UCA and the ELCA,Episcopal church and some of the Lutheran churches in Europe and especially scandanavia.
    I use to think that ,believe it and taught it that the Church of Rome was the Anti-Christ- i had a father antimason and anti catholic and a staunch proddy fundamentalist,but who said that the catholic church never strayed from the Gospel .

    • Schütz says:

      Not everyone might know what you are referring to, Matthias, but I should have put a link to the article on Pastor Mark’s blog, because it is relevant: http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/spanner-in-works-of-lutheran-rite.html

      I found his post rather weird. I don’t think he was directly referring to Cardinal Koch’s comments, but rather to the controversial issue that the canonist Ed Peters has been pursuing, namely the interpretation of canon law which says that even married clergy (such as permanent deacons or ex-Protestant priests) should refrain from sexual relations with their wives.

      It should be borne in mind that even in the Anglican Ordinariate, celibacy will remain the norm, even though the possibility of ordaining married men will remain.

      But really, leaving aside the question of perpetual continence even for married clergy, Pastor Mark does seem to suggest that the bottom line for Lutheranism is the right for their pastors to have sex, which is a bit odd.

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