Rod Dreher in Crunchy Con over at Belief Net writes:
Do ex-Anglicans make the wrong kind of Catholics? You know, the kind who really believe the Catechism? I ask for two reasons. One, the Dallas Morning News reports today that priests of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth have been inquiring of the city’s Roman Catholic bishop about their diocese coming over to Rome en masse, so to speak. No report on how the RC bishop, Kevin Vann, responded to the Episcopal priests’ petition, though the Catholic diocese did confirm that the meeting took place.
NOTE THIS: Big, and very well deserved link from Crunch Con (something of a mega blog) to Katie Sherrod, also known in the Episcopal Blogosphere as Desert’s Child:
Here, from the blog of Katie Sherrod (a liberal north Texas Episcopalian), are more details, including a text of the proposal itself.
And then there is this from Una Voce:
Some of the individual stories are shocking. One key player in the negotiations was Episcopalian Bishop Clarence Pope of Fort Worth, Texas. He tried to negotiate for a personal prelature, or some form of nationwide, expanded pastoral provision, with the help of Cardinal Law. They had a meeting in Rome with key Cardinals, which concluded with a dramatic meeting where Pope John Paul II embraced Bishop Pope and gestured towards him saying, “in communion.” But when they went back home, nothing happened.
Finally, the ailing Bishop Pope announced his retirement as Anglican bishop, and that he couldn’t wait any longer and wished to come into the Church as an individual. On retirement, he moved to the diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The bishop of Baton Rouge had said that he would happily reordain Bishop Pope as a priest. But having said this, the bishop then said that he would first… (wait for this) put it to a vote of the diocesan priests council. Guess what? They voted against allowing an Anglican bishop, involved in direct negotiations with the Pope and Cardinals Law and Ratzinger, to become an ordinary priest. Pope was completely isolated from the Catholic community in Baton Rouge, and was left in the dark as to what was happening at the national and international level (after all, he was just a retired layman now). Old and sick, he started getting calls from the Episcopalian primate and the new Episcopal Bishop of Fort Worth to return to the Episcopal Church to the dignity of being a retired bishop. He did, thanks to the petty jealousies and heartlessness of a small bishop and his liberal priests.
In the end, thanks to a myriad of stumbling blocks on the Catholic side, and a more creative response on the Anglican side by giving the dissident parishes four bishops of their own and allowing them to opt out of the regular Church of England structure, the negotiations with Rome and Westminster came to nothing. Many individual priests and laity came over, but the prospect of a mass conversion of whole parishes flopped.
The similarities to the position of Roman rite traditionalists to the Anglo-Catholics discussed in Oddie’s book were striking. How many times have we had friendly words or documents from Rome, only to be shot down by bishops? How many times have we heard initially positive responses from bishops, only to be shot down by a vote of the priests council? How many times have we had to endure insults that we are not really loyal to the Church because we want our own distinct liturgy?
It also makes me think that if Rome is too powerless to bring over an Anglican bishop who the Pope has said he is “in communion” with because of the Baton Rouge priests council, or unwilling to help bring over 200+ whole Anglican parishes, how much power will they have or energy will they spend to help us? We may have to come to the same sad lesson that most of the Anglo-Catholic dissidents still in the Church of England came to: the bishops and priests don’t want us, and Rome is unwilling or unable to help us. Therefore, we have to help ourselves.