Rome Calling

This was on Christian Campbell’s blog: The Anglo Catholic and comes originally from Fr Blake’s blog.


Living in one of the Casa de Clero in Rome, even for short time, means that despite one’s best efforts one hears gossip.
I was a little surprised that three or four Curial officials implied or said outright dealing with the English hierarchy was incredibly difficult, much more difficult than most of the worlds heirarchies.
One conversation contained the following rant… “We write gentle letters, they ignore them”. “We insist more strongly, they acknowledge receipt of the letter but we hear nothing more”. “We press for the resolution of a matter, they respond by saying they will be brought it to the attention of the relevant Bishop’s Conference or Diocesan Committee.”  “We ask 6 months, a year later, if the matter has been dealt with, invariable the response is, “not yet”, it goes on and on”.
“England and Wales” , someone else said, “is the black hole”.
“Does the Pope know that?” I asked.
I got wry smile, “As Prefect, he spent 20 years waiting for England and Wales to respond to him, suffering the same frustration as the rest of us, maybe now he is Pope, finally…., but then he is only Pope”.
This is why we must beware the English bishops alacrity in ‘embracing’ Anglicanorum Coetibus. They seem to have jumped in saying, “Oh, yes, leave this to us. We’ll get the ball rolling here oh yes we will!”
As in the English panto, I think we should reply, “Oh no you won’t.” I fear the real reason the English bishops have jumped in and pretended to be enthusiastic is because, in fact, the Anglican Ordinariate needn’t concern them at all. The Constitution says that the Ordinariate will be set up by the CDF–not the local bishops’ conferences. All the Ordinary has to do is consult and work with the local bishop.
What the English bishops are trying to do is prevent that from happening by jumping in quickly to take control. Rome should politely tell them that their services are not needed unless asked for and get on with the job of setting up the ordinariate without them because, mark my words, if the English bishops get their hands on this it will go into a holding pattern and you will never see anything happen.
Why do I suspect such behavior? Only because it was at the hands of the English Catholic bishops that I waited for ten years to be ordained and then guess what? I had to come back to the USA to be ordained anyway. But that’s another long story for another time and another place.

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00997766157711823147 the owl of the remove

    That was actually from Fr. Ray Blake's recent visit to Rome

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05584140126211527252 Fr Ray Blake

    Yes, it is from my blog.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14452381203940231150 Fr

    Father, I'd be interested to see a redacted (if necessary) account of your dealings with members of the bench of bishops in E&W.; I'm sad to say that I have known several 'good men' who have been kept on very long leads by Ordinaries and/or messed about by so-called 'formation staff' at seminaries. Few bishops, if any, seem to have the…ahem…nerve to actually question what is going on and act like bishops. One can't help but wonder if there is some weird national policy that militates against orthodox, sound men being ordained without a struggle.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12979831428268753359 Natasa

    There is an 'interesting' understanding of ecumenism in the UK that probably prevents things from happening. Pope Benedict's ideas are not exactly what these people have in mind.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14058286668713203201 servingblogger

    Interesting that English bishops dragged their heels in getting around (or not) to ordaining you, Father L. I wonder why ?It really is none of your business how the English bishops engage with this process. It is their Episcopal jurisdiction and National Church and they quite rightly on behalf of English Catholics have a right to a say in what happens, how it happens, and when it happens. And, I'm not sure they are going to take much notice of you at this time.As for Rome, well, Rome will learn also that the process as it applies in England will be by deliberation between the English bishops and the CDF, and they will together work out a process that is suitable for the English Catholic Church and the local conditions and requirements. Again, I'm not sure that Rome needs to have the likes of you sticking your nose in and giving advice from the side lines.I suggest that you concern yourself with what is happening in the US in this matter, and leave the English situation to those who know it best and are actively involved.Your arrogance in this matter to presume to know better, better even than the English bishops, is, as ever with you, Fr L., astounding !

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14058286668713203201 servingblogger

    Interesting that English bishops dragged their heels in getting around (or not) to ordaining you, Father L. I wonder why ?It really is none of your business how the English bishops engage with this process. It is their Episcopal jurisdiction and national church and they quite rightly on behalf of English Catholics have a right to a say in what happens, how it happens, and when it happens. And, I'm not sure they are going to take much notice of you at this time.As for Rome, well, Rome will learn also that the process as it applies in England will be by deliberation between the English bishops and the CDF, and they will together work out a process that is suitable for the English Catholic Church and the local conditions and requirements. Again, I'm not sure that Rome needs to have the likes of you sticking your nose in and giving advice from the side lines.I suggest that you concern yourself with what is happening in the US in this matter, and leave the English situation to those who know it best and are actively involved.Your arrogance in this matter to presume to know better is, as ever with you, Fr L., astounding !

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16699227938165106710 Little Black Sambo

    Servingblogger (serving whom?), it seems to me that Fr L. is closely aware of what is going on in England, that his evaluation of episcopal behaviour is accurate, and that it will be your views that will prove to have been ill-founded. He can back up his views with argument from experience. What can you offer in response, other than bare and offensively expressed assertions? Good heavens! The thought has just occurred to me: perhaps you are a bishop.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr Longenecker

    sb, you're sounding really rather pre-Vatican II in your understanding of bishops. I thought this was the church where the laity had a voice, where the ordinary clergy were consulted, I thought this was the 'We Are Church' age in which bishops were, more than ever, the servants of the servants of God.Now you tell us that we are to simply 'pray, pay and obey' like the old days. This surprises me since I had assumed from your usual tone that you were very much against the old totalitarian understanding of bishops as princes of the church who's decisions and actions must never be criticized.Concerning the Anglican Ordinariate. Have you read the document? It really does say that the CDF sets up the ordinariate and that the ordinary is directly answerable to Rome. The local bishops are not necessarily involved at all.As to my own journey to ordination, I do not discuss the details of the long delay for the very reason that it reflects so badly on the English bishops.I once criticized a journalist for printing bad news about the clergy and he said, "What you don't know is all the even worse news that we don't print." Same here. Sometimes the reality is so grim that it is best just to be discreet and shut up.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12979831428268753359 Natasa

    Quote Servingblogger: It really is none of your business how the English bishops engage with this process. It is their Episcopal jurisdiction and National Church and they quite rightly on behalf of English Catholics have a right to a say in what happens, how it happens, and when it happens. Well actually, there is no 'national church' authority in Catholicism and yes, they are obliged to respect the Pope. You sound like an angry Anglican LOL

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06349146033236890779 Giovanni A. Cattaneo

    I would call this the Magic Circles last hurray before the Church is given back the faithful.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03549825303646357455 Deacon Augustine

    Fr. L said:"One can't help but wonder if there is some weird national policy that militates against orthodox, sound men being ordained without a struggle."Sure, Fr. L, there is. It may not be written down anywhere, but it is generally referred to as "keeping the young fogeys out." That is certainly the policy in the south coast dioceses at least.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12594214770417497135 Maureen

    The real topical point here is not whether the bishops over in England had any reason to ordain or not ordain Fr. Longenecker.The point is that, in ten years, even the most dilatory people and groups would find the time to say Yes or No. They wouldn't string somebody along for ten years.Even I don't procrastinate for ten years. At some point, I admit that I'm just not gonna do it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02487748842744745860 Steve

    The English hierarchy will not stop this progressing as intended. The Pope has already shown his determination to reach a timely conclusion in the manner and timing of the advice to the CofE and the English bishops of the decision. Let's get these good people reconciled to the Church asap, not least for the sake of the Catholic Church in England which has need of them and their gifts.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14531024393615051496 veritas

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14058286668713203201 servingblogger

    Fr L, you were the one who introduced the issue about the delay in ordination. If it's a grim story, then you should heed the advice of the journalist and not introduce it in to the public forum.Now as to the Ordinariate. Yes, I have read the document from the CDC, and yes I accept that the Ordinariate will be set up by Rome and the Ordinary will exist alongside the Bishops' Conference. I do, however, question how this is going to work out in reality. It sounds to me that it will create a little enclave that is outside the mainstream of the Church's life in the E and W, bypassing the Bishops, Dioceses and Parishes of E and W, and becoming a bit of an oddity. Not mainstream. Not integrated. Not part of the local Church. A bit like the oddity that is the flying bishops arrangement currently in the C of E.Rome has created something that will cause difficulties for all. A church within a church. A parallel universe. Watch that space and watch for trouble. The disaffected grumpy Anglicans who want to come over will continue to be disaffected and grumpy, because it's probably in their DNA, and they will not be happy, because even though they might be able to exist in their own little ghetto, they will realise that the reality of the Catholic Church in E and W is very different to what they think it is. There is going to be trouble.And, if I were a bishop in E and W, I would be very cautious about these people.The question I ask, is if they are so keen to belong the Universal Catholic Church, why don't they simply become Roman Catholics – go through the RCIA, make their profession of faith, join their local parish and become a Roman Catholic ? Become one of us. They would be welcome.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16699227938165106710 Little Black Sambo

    "why don't they simply become Roman Catholics – go through the RCIA … etc, etc?"SB, if you can still ask such a question, you have not been paying attention.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr Longenecker

    sb, I think yours is a fair question, especially given that you are English.In fact here in the United States Catholics have long been used to much more diversity within the unity of Catholicism. Parishes were often built and divided along ethnic lines so in Pennsylvania where I grew up there were Polish, German, Italian and Irish parishes. All part of the Latin rite, but identified by their ethnic customs. Now we have a growing number of predominantly Hispanic parishes.In addition to this we have Ukranian, Chaldean, Maronite etc. Eastern Rite Catholic Churches.The Anglican Use parishes will simply be another group like this.In England this same diversity just doesn't exist.It will be interesting to see if the Ordinariate takes off in England. I somehow doubt that it will, and I think Rome has felt all along that this is more of an initiative for the New World.In my experience Christians in England today simply don't have the drive, the enthusiasm, the faith and the courage to make such a thing happen. I hope I'm wrong, but we'll see.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14531024393615051496 veritas

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14531024393615051496 veritas

    "It will be interesting to see if the Ordinariate takes off in England. I somehow doubt that it will, and I think Rome has felt all along that this is more of an initiative for the New World."Father, Remember that is was in England that Newman and others began the return to Rome.I suspect that once an Anglican Ordinariate parish is formed in England it could be but the beginning of a return.I agree that the English hierachy have previously put stumbling blocks in the way but the Holy Father has nicely circumvented that now.I pray regularly that Catholic minded Anglicans will see the light and come home.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07346012062816580296 Athelstane

    Hello sb – Your comments are, in a way, refreshing, because they express with real candor the attitudes that permeate most of the English hierarchy. Still, some clarification remains:1. If it is indeed your position that the Pope has erred in creating this new canonical structure – that only trouble will come of it – are you indeed suggesting that the bishops of E&W; are justified in resisting its implementation in every way possible?2. I think that Fr. L's point about ethnic parishes in the U.S. needs to be qualified as an analogy, because it is not a perfect one: the new Anglican ordinariates are actually something between an "ethnic" parish (the most common such in the UK probably being Polish-dominated parishes) and a sui juris Eastern Rite church, such as the Melkites, Maronites, etc. The new ordinariates are actually closer to the latter, albeit not quite so, since they are not sui juris per se, and have a relationship to diocesan bishops (and Roman canon law) that Eastern Rite structures do not. Nonethless, Fr. L's point remains valid: it's a big, diverse Church, and it is remarkable to hear an erstwhile liberal resisting the creation of a little more diversity. So – to take your question – why don't these disaffected Anglicans just come over and become regular Catholics? Perhaps because they distrust most of the E&W; hierarchy almost as much as their own. Perhaps because they think the English Church's liturgy far more theologically (notwithstanding its erroneous Cranmerian accretions) and aesthetically impoverished than what they enjoy now. Perhaps because they know that much of the E&W; hierarchy is, in fact, quite liberal, even secretly (or even not so secretly) favoring many of the radical changes undertaken by the Anglican Church, such as women's ordination, gay ordination, etc., and don't care at all for the kind of complications that an influx of a bunch of new conservative, more orthodox Catholics might present, either as laity or as priestly vocations – people to be dismissed as perpetual cranks rather than Christians rightly dismayed by the unprecedented deformations afflicting their communion. Allow me to suggest that your zeal for episcopal collegiality is a qualified one: You favor it when the episcopate in question is theologically, liturgically, and ecclesiologically condign to your own progressive views (as E&W; is), but would suddenly change your tune if it were a bishop or conference that was actually quite conservative and resistant to post-conciliar reforms, as (say) Spain or Campos were after the Council. At any rate, your position that Fr. L, as a priest incardinated to a U.S. diocese has no voice in English affairs might be all well and good, but I wonder how you respond to English priests and laity who express such concerns. Because some of them post here as well.


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