Thursday, 28 October 2010

Of doves and serpents: the road to the Ordinariate

Pastor Emeritus and others have drawn readers’ attention to this article about the Ordinariate, which appeared in The Daily Telegraph on 21 Oct 2010, under the name of the paper’s Religious Affairs Editor, Tim Ross. The source for the article was an interview with Dr Rowan Williams, Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, in The Hindu newspaper.

In a surprise announcement, Dr Rowan Williams said he wanted to establish a new joint group of Roman Catholic and Church of England figures to oversee the conversion process.

The proposed group would be designed to enable smooth and less painful transition for those who want to leave the Church of England to become Roman Catholics in protest at the ordination of women bishops. …….

“As this is now being implemented, we are trying to make sure that there is a joint group which will keep an eye on how it's going to happen. In England, the relations between the Church of England and Roman Catholic Bishops are very warm and very close. I think we are able to work together on this and not find it a difficulty.”

It is understood that neither the Church of England nor the Roman Catholic authorities in England and Wales have yet agreed to Dr Williams’s proposal for a joint group to oversee the Ordinariate.

"Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly", wrote Pastor Emeritus, which made me laugh. Far be it from me to hint (perish the thought!) that any such thing is in their minds, or will be part of the remit of the proposed ecumenical group. I very much hope that the E&W bishops are not, either alone or in combination with the CofE bishops, attempting to take control of the Ordinariate. I’ve no doubt that helpful things can be contributed by all parties; but there is a limit.

As I understand it, the Anglican-Catholic Ordinary will have as direct and unmediated a right of access to Rome as any Latin-rite English or Welsh bishop. Neither the Ordinary nor any other bishop is subordinate to the Bishops’ Conference. And certainly not to a joint Catholic-Church of England group which seeks to “work together on this”.

Charity in all things, of course. I have no doubt that this will be the watchword of many if not all of those involved. Nonetheless, I am reassured by the thought that those who are approaching the banks of the Tiber on this beautiful and grace-filled journey are both as gentle as doves and as intelligent as serpents. I have confidence that they know how many beans make five.

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