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.