17 March 2011

A new Protonotary Apostolic

Last Sunday "Father" Keith Newton appeard at Westminster Cathedral for the Rite of Election dressed in purple. Today from the Ordinariate website we learn the reason.

"It was announced today that the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has been honoured by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, and has been elevated to the rank of Protonotary Apostolic. Fr John Broadhurst and Fr Andrew Burnham have also been honoured by being elevated to the rank of Prelate of Honour. As such, all three priests are now known as Monsignor."

Monsignor Keith Newton, P.A.
© Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk
The Pimpernel conratulates the new Monsignori. This step is another important sign of how seriously the Holy Father and the Holy See are taking the Ordinariates.

But what, the Pimpernel wonders, can the new Protonotary do liturgically? If you put together his pontifical priviledges under Anglicanorum Coetibus and his new prelatial dignity, it seems like he may be the first Protonotary Apostolic in modern times who can pontificate to his congregations' content, as much as could any bishop, miter, crosier and the works. Well he is an Ordinary and has more authority than any auxiliary bishop, so why not?

The Pimernel looks forward to the photos of the Protonotary in action, that is if he ever gets to use a church building that is suitable for pontifical liturgy.


  1. Not so. The Ordinary is entitled to wear the purple cassock on account of his juridiction. He is now entitled to wear it because of his rank, also. The Prelates of Honour may also make use of the purple cassock as choir dress alone, on certain occasions.

  2. Indeed so. Under AC's norms former Anglican bishops may be given the right to episcopal insignia, not prelatical dress. This comes from the dignity recently conferred. Prelates of Honour may wear the purple cassock as choir dress on any occasion.

  3. The CDF has not given the Ordinary permission to wear episcopal insignia on account of his former ministry, but rather because he has Ordinary jurisdiction - even though that's not what the Apostolic Constitution allows for.

    As the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Mgr Newton is equal in law to a diocesan bishop and therefore entitled to wear "the same vesture as bishops" (cf. CB 1206) regardless of his monsignorial privileges.

    However, as a Supernumerary Apostolic Protonotary his choir dress is indeed the purple cassock with purple silk fascia, unpleated surplice and plain black biretta with black tuft. This is the same for Honorary Prelates (i.e. Mgr Burnham & Broadhurst) - see CB 1208

    None of the new monsignori may wear the black and red piped shoulder cape.

    It seems that it is not usual for a Supernumerary Apostolic Protonotary to wear the purple cassock for the Mass, but as a prelate "equal in law to a diocesan bishop", this is presumably correct.

    It would also seem to follow that the Ordinary should wear the choir dress of a bishop (i.e. purple cassock and fascia, zucchetto, mozzetta and purple biretta) whilst he is the Ordinary. Upon retirement, he should revert to the dress of a Supernumerary Apostolic Protonotary

  4. All this dressing as a bishop while not being a bishop is mildly bemusing. Surely making Fr Newton a bishop in all-but-fact is all intended to save the headache of having to consecrate him? His possessing a wife does rather complicate things.

    Fr Eliott, ex HT Reading, is a nice man, single, and joining the Ordinariate right now. Perhaps he may become the first fully-fledged bishop -- in the due passage of time, of course.

  5. "All this dressing as a bishop while not being a bishop is mildly bemusing."

    The simplest way to understand this, I think, is to consider the monastic abbot. While remaining a priest, he is the Ordinary of his community, and is vested in mitre and crosier, etc.

  6. "possessing" a wife ??