Sooner or later, they will have to learn to play nice

Former Anglicans who migrate to the Roman Catholic Church will have to learn how to build bridges with other Roman Catholics, lest they ghettoize themselves.

Austin Ivereigh wondersif these former Anglo-Catholics, who got their ordinariate in motion without the knowledge of the Roman Catholic or Anglican Bishops in England and Wales, will really become an integral part of their new church or will they use their perch to continue to meddle in the Church of England and the other Anglican Churches they have left.

Earlier this week… the Guardian was leaked a sensitive email from the Anglican Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Andrew Burnham, who was one of those who originally approached Pope Benedict seeking an ordinariate, to Peter Elliott, the Australian Catholic bishop in charge of negotiating the ordinariates down under.

What it reveals is the way in which Bishop Burnham has been negotiating closely and directly with a CDF official, Mgr Patrick Burke, under the radar of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales.

Anglicanorum coetibus was a CDF creation on Pope Benedict’s orders. It bypassed the Archbishop of Canterbury, the English & Welsh bishops, the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and virtually everyone else. It was the result of secret talks between CDF officials and Anglican bishops looking to defect. So it’s hardly surprising that Bishop Burnham has closer contacts with CDF officials in Rome than with the English and Welsh hierarchy.

But the decision to create an ordinariate — and its terms — will be taken by the bishops of England and Wales, not Rome, as Mgr Andrew Faley of the bishops’ conference told Andrew Brown at the Guardian: “the authority of the Church in working this out rests with the bishops’ conferences and not with the CDF”.

Sooner or later, therefore, the Anglican traditionalists in England and Wales are going to have to build bridges with the pastors of the English Catholic flock. The longer they leave that task — out of suspicion of a post-Vatican II hierarchy, or a desire to play politics within the Church of England — the harder it will be.

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