On one of the threads, a reader suggested that seasonal pastoral letters already showed some bishops softening up their flocks for "change", whatever that may mean. I have no evidence for that. In fact, I have just been reading a pastoral letter sent out by Philip Egan, Bishop of Prtsmouth. It is very fine indeed. Like all his Pastoral Letters, it is beautifully footnoted. Truly, he is a bishop who takes seriously his munus docendi not just his laity, but also his clergy. So am by nature rather inclined to dismiss apocalyptic conspiracy-theorist claims about heterodox bishops. However ... here are some words by a very senior Curial Cardinal very much better placed than I am to know what is going on in the Church at large; he says that there are bishops "who have allowed themselves to be somehow blinded by a secularised society in which they have been so influenced that it has drawn them away from the main topic or from the teachings of the Church based on revelation".
I suppose, prima facie, a crude and ignorant journalistic mentality, trained in the usual journalistic arts of gross over-simplification, might expect bishops to fall into roughly three groups:
(1) the orthodox, busily setting down clear markers about what the Church (to adapt S John Paul II's phrase) nullatenus habet facultatem faciendi;
(2) those betting bishops who have put all their money firmly on Bergoglio's nose; and
(3) those hedging their bets, anxious to say nothing which might either offend Current Management or be an embarrassment on their files if Pope Francis is followed by a hypothetical 'orthodox reaction'.
I'm not sure into which category we should put that Belgian bishop ... was his name Bonny? He seems quite 'way out' in his suggestion that the Church ought to provide blessings to parallel the many varieties of sexual relationships in the secular world. The mind boggles. But it all sounds like enormous fun, with masses of interesting work for liturgical wordsmiths ... 'jobs for the boys', as we say in England ... and, of course, for the girls ... and for the biboys ... transboys ... cisboys ... cisbigirls ... bitransgirls ... et ceteris et ad infinitum ... just imagine trying to provide liturgically for every possible 'relationship' between any two (does it have to be just two?) of these!! Quelle richesse!!
I am totally sure that, under the wise guidance of our beloved Holy Father and of our very savvy English bishops, we are not moving into the world envisaged and consistently urged since 1992 by Walter Kasper, in which (since in his view the Local Church has ontological priority over the Universal Church) doctrinally significant 'differences' should be allowed to coexist, such as 'differences' of marital and sexual discipline, between or even within provinces. That would make the Catholic Church exactly like the dear old Anglican Communion which is now so amusingly splitting up! With the best will in the world, humankind does not really need three Anglican Communions. Two is more than enough!
It must be truly dreadful to be in the dioceses of heterodox Belgian and German bishops. I feel particularly disappointed with regard to the Belgian Church, since it was that admirable Cardinal Mercier of Malines who so vigorously advocated, during the 'Malines' Conversations, the basic idea of the Ordinariates, i.e. of an Anglicanism 'united not absorbed'; of diversity but within the structures of the Magisterium of the Ages.
We of the Anglican Patrimony could, perhaps, make a Euro or two doing lucrative Consultancy Work helping Belgian and German parishes which are suffering under unorthodox bishops!! We had 170 years of experience of doing that sort of thing!! But since the papist Euro is currently plummetting in value, perhaps we should demand payment in good sound Protestant Pounds. [This last paragraph is meant as a childish joke. Indeed, I doubt if there is a single Ordinariate priest who is sufficiently fluent in modern Belgian.]