6 May 2017

The protohistory of the Ordinariates

Bishop Steven Lopes, Ordinary of the Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter, delivered, on 28 March, a most interesting lecture in Vienna, entitled "Unity of Faith in a Diversity of Expression: The Work of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith". I commend it to you ... it is fascinating!

Bishop Steven explains that "from 1960 to 2005 there were no fewer than 7 serious attempts to effect a corporate reunion of an Anglican Ecclesial Community with the Catholic Church". As far as details are concerned, the 'Pontifical Secret' forbids him to be specific. But he does then go on "if the Holy See worked with a group of Anglicans to elaborate a proposal, and if that proposal was then entrusted to an Episcopal Conference for implementation, and if that Episcopal Conference then simply killed the proposal in committee, then a new approach might involve consultation with local Episcopal Conferences but reserve the actual oversight and direction of the implementation to the Holy See itself".

If you are really interested, I suggest that you read Bishop Steven's narrative alongside a piece by Dr William Oddie, in the Catholic Herald of November 22 2010 ... around the time when Pope Benedict's intention to erect Ordinariates had just been made public.

Dr Oddie, in 1997, had published a meticulously researched book, The Roman Option, in which, making use of minutes of meetings which had been leaked to him, he told the story of the events of the mid-1990s, when the CBCEW had sabotaged a previous plan to effect a corporate reunion in England. (This was the celebrated occasion on which Cardinal Ratzinger asked "What are the English bishops afraid of?" and S John Paul II had asked why the English bishops were so unapostolic.)

Cardinal Hume had begun by welcoming our attempted move in the mid-1990s as being the Conversion of England for which English Catholics had so long prayed. But, sadly for his reputation, he lost his nerve under pressure from some of his colleagues and issued a categorical denial of Oddie's account and a condemation of his book; which condemnation was actually issued as being a statement by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales. After correspondence with the actual writer of the statement, who was one of the Westminster auxiliaries, Oddie secured its retraction, but only after having to threaten that he would publish his documentary evidence, to show that he had been speaking the truth. "Since I was very unwilling to imply that Cardinal Hume had himself been lying ... I was profoundly relieved when this was agreed".

Read Oddie's very jolly account yourselves to find out about the secret dealings which spanned these events and the initiative of Pope Benedict (I think one of those anonymously involved will have been Archbishop diNoia). We won! And today is marked on our Ordinariate Calendar as the Feast of S John the Apostle in Eastertide (antiquius 'ante Portam Latinam') because it marks the day when a group of Anglican parish priests started a secret series of meetings among ourselves which led to our leaving the Church of England and availing ourselves of Pope Benedict's offer.

Very happily, the CBCEW is, of course, a radically different body now from what it was twenty sad years ago. There are now some very fine bishops whose attitude to the Ordinariate is everything ... and more ... that could be hoped for. But, ad perpetuam rei memoriam, I hope that Dr Oddie's collection of documents ends up in the Archives of the Ordinariate. And ... just to be on the safe side ... with copies in the Archives at Pusey House and the Palace of the Holy Office.

One detail which somebody could suss out ... someone who knows how to burrow around in the files of the Catholic Herald and the Tablet ... who was that Westminster auxiliary whom Oddie forced into a retraction?


Mario Josipovic said...

Here is a link to the lecture:

Finny said...

This is the Oddie piece to which you refer:

t.procopio said...



Unknown said...

No otha' than O..O...+Othona?

pueblosw@gmail.com said...

When the satraps of Edward VI engineered a separation as a protestant church in the 16th century, it was 300 years before Newman even proposed a return. Vatican II made a valeant effort but the Anglican Church has by that time, committed to a thoroughly protestant path, women priests and all. It is interesting to see how close might have been but close only counts in games of horseshoes.