Money in the bank…
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor — the retired Archbishop of Westminster — tonight addressed a meeting of ARCIC at Worth Abbey. After the recent events, everyone has been waiting to hear what he has to say.
The Cardinal welcomed the Holy Father’s initiative in the Apostolic Constitution, said ecumenism wasn’t dead and defended the decision not to create the option for personal ordinariates in the 1990s. From a 5,000 word speech, ruminating on his personal experiences in the ecumenical process and what Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor sees for the future, here is the money quote about personal ordinariates. He said:
There is much that has been written and spoken about this matter over the past week but I would just want to emphasise that this response of Pope Benedict is no reflection or comment on the Anglican Communion as a whole or of our ongoing ecumenical relationship with them.
Indeed, I think it true to say that this was one of the reasons why this particular provision for Anglicans who wished to enter into full communion in 1993-94 was not implemented. At that time, Cardinal Hume, Bishop Alan Clark of East Anglia, the then Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster ¬ now Archbishop Vincent Nichols ¬ and myself were responsible for the on-going discussions with the leadership of a movement called, Forward in Faith, as also with the then Cardinal Ratzinger and his advisers in Rome. It is true to say that some special provision for the Anglicans who wished to come into full communion with the Church, a provision such as the Personal Ordinariates, might have been very helpful at that time. But after much discussion, it was finally decided that it would not be appropriate to take this initiative. The reasons for this were two-fold.
The first is that in 1993-94 the we bishops were dealing solely with clergy of the Church of England, and any such response as is now given by the Holy See would naturally have had to be offered to the whole of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion. It did not seem within our remit to engage in such a response. The other reason, however, was even more important. If the Holy See had offered such Personal Ordinariates then, and in particular here in England, it might well have been seen as an un-ecumenical approach by the Holy See, as if wanting to put out the net as far as one could. Both Pope John Paul and the then Cardinal Ratzinger would have been against such a move as, indeed, were the four of us. Matters have moved on since then and the repeated requests by many Anglicans, not only from England but from other Provinces of the Anglican Communion, have necessitated a new approach, which is why I think that the Personal Ordinariates offered by the Holy Father can be seen not in any way un-ecumenical but rather as a generous response to people who have been knocking at the door for a long time.