The first principle of the Ordinariate is then about Christian unity. St. Basil the Great, the Church’s greatest ecumenist, literally expended his life on the work of building bridges between orthodox brethren who shared a common faith, but who had become separated from one another in a Church badly fragmented by heresy and controversy. He taught that the work of Christian unity requires deliberate and ceaseless effort...St. Basil often talked with yearning about the archaia agape, the ancient love of the apostolic community, so rarely seen in the Church of his day. This love, he taught, is a visible sign that the Holy Spirit is indeed present and active, and it is absolutely essential for the health of the Church.

- Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Homily on the Occasion of his Formal Institution as Ordinary

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Anglo-Catholic bishops say yes to Rome

There were two reports in England today of meetings between Anglo-Catholic bishops from the Church of England and representatives of the Holy See in Rome. After looking at both reports, it seems clear to me that while the fact of the visit is established, exactly what went on during the visit is unknown, although it is certainly reasonable to deduct that Anglicanorum Coetibus was discussed. As to whether anyone, whether the Catholic hierarchy of England and Wales or the Church of England bishops knew of things ahead of time, my response is "So what?" This exceeding caution about doing things via proper channels, all the while rushing headlong to abandon the Tradition of the Church (but done politely, with plenty of discussion) is at the heart of many of the problems in the Church today. Too much regard for the opinions of men, without considering the will of God.

From Damian Thompson's blog Holy Smoke
[Update: A leading Anglo-Catholic source contacts me this morning naming several English Catholic bishops whom he thinks were in Rome for this summit. He confirms that "very few people on our side" (ie, the C of E) knew it was happening.]

A fascinating update on the Ordinariate story tonight from Jonathan Wynne-Jones: the Church of England bishops of Fulham, Richborough and Ebbsfleet have basically said yes to the Pope’s offer. They were at the Vatican last week to discuss the details, apparently. The RC Bishops of England and Wales are hopelessly divided on the Ordinariate scheme, so Bishops John Broadhurst, Keith Newton and Andrew Burnham have gone to the top. Very wise.

The Sunday Telegraph story says Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster was unaware of the Vatican meeting. That implies a serious collapse of confidence in the English Catholic hierarchy on the part of the Anglicans – you would expect +Vin to be in the picture even if his colleagues weren’t. But see update above: senior Anglo-Catholic sources reckon at least one member of the English hierarchy was in Rome, so that makes it inconceivable that Archbishop Nichols didn’t know...

Read the rest at Holy Smoke.

and the story from Mr. Wynne-Jones in yesterday's Telegraph:
Anglican bishops in secret Vatican summit

In a move likely to raise tensions between the two Churches, a group of Church of England bishops met last week with advisers of Pope Benedict XVI to set in motion steps that would allow priests to convert to Catholicism en masse.

They are set to resign their orders in opposition to the introduction of women bishops and to lead an exodus of Anglican clerics to the Catholic Church despite Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, urging them not to leave.

It would be the first time for nearly 20 years that large numbers of priests have crossed from the Church of England to Rome, and comes only weeks ahead of a crucial General Synod debate on making women bishops.

The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that bishops travelled to the Holy See last week to hold face to face discussions with senior members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful of the Vatican's departments...

You can read this in full at the U.K. Telegraph.

Mr. Wynne-Jones followed this with another story today: Bishops' defection: A major new blow to the Anglican church

Hat tip to Mary Ann Mueller for leads on the first two stories.

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