Daily Telegraph religion journalist Damien Thompson is sometimes a bit gossipy for my liking, but in this article he does an inside analysis on some of the other major things happening in and behind this week's stunning announcement of Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans.
For ten years I was an Anglican priest, and for ten years I was a Catholic layman in England. I worked for the St Barnabas Society--a charity that quietly assists convert clergy as they convert to the Catholic Church. At the same time I was on a long road to ordination myself. I therefore got to meet and discuss issues with the major players, and I can confirm virtually everything Damien asserts about the background politics in the case.
Although the Archbishop of Canterbury is dismayed that the Personal Ordinariate project was popped on him as a surprise move at a 'very late stage' it can't have come as much of a surprise. This thing has been cooking for years. We can trace the development of it back to the early 90's when the Church of England was debating the ordination of women. When the CofE General Synod voted to ordain women in 1992 high level Anglicans were already in discussions with Rome. The retired Bishop of London--Graham Leonard was not only in talks with Cardinal Basil Hume, but also with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the CDF. I believe Ratzinger was sympathetic to the Anglo Catholics even then, and I know that a personal friendship developed between Cardinal Ratzinger and (now) Mgr. Leonard.
Read the rest at "Standing on My Head".