(Telegraph) - In a move likely to raise tensions between the two Churches, a group of Church of England bishops met last week with advisers of Pope Benedict XVI to set in motion steps that would allow priests to convert to Catholicism en masse.THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: There are a few striking things about this story. The first of course is that a minimum of three Church of England bishops will be accepting the pope's offer for an Anglican Ordinariate. These are not bishops from the continuing Anglican bodies. These are actual C of E bishops. Of course more may be coming in the near future, but three are more than enough to establish an effective ordinariate presence on the British Isles. With them, so it would appear, will come a significant number of Anglican priests consisting of an unknown number at this time, not even counting the laity. This is nothing short of an exodus! Of course, in England this all comes on the heels of the C of E approving female bishops.
They are set to resign their orders in opposition to the introduction of women bishops and to lead an exodus of Anglican clerics to the Catholic Church despite Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, urging them not to leave.
It would be the first time for nearly 20 years that large numbers of priests have crossed from the Church of England to Rome, and comes only weeks ahead of a crucial General Synod debate on making women bishops.
The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that bishops travelled to the Holy See last week to hold face to face discussions with senior members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful of the Vatican's departments.
The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Rt Rev Keith Newton and the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, the bishops of Fulham, Richborough and Ebbsfleet respectively, are understood to have informed senior Catholic officials that Church of England clergy are keen to defect to Rome....
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The second thing that strikes me is the elimination of the middleman. These C of E bishops went straight to the Vatican CDF for their negotiations and completely bypassed the English Conference of Catholic Bishops. Of course, it only makes logicial sense for them to do this, since the pope's Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans specifically outlines that ordinariates will be under the CDF and not the local bishops' conferences. However, failing to even consult with these conferences, which is within their right, demonstrates a profound concern on the part of Anglican clergy that the local Catholic bishops' conferences may actually work against the pope's ordinariate plan. So why bother going through them? Better to deal with these bishops' conferences after the ordinariate is already set up.
Third and finally, since any Roman Catholic will be able to meet their Sunday obligation by receiving Eucharist offered under the Anglican ordinariate, I'm beginning to wonder if Pope Benedict has effectively created another escape hatch for Roman Catholics sick and tired of the Novus Ordo liturgy as celebrated by the liberal loons in the general Roman Rite.
I have just one last thought to add to this. Not to be a killjoy, but as exciting as this news is, there is always the possibility the C of E bishops may simply be using the ordinariate as leverage to get what they want out of the upcoming C of E synod on women bishops. We shall see.