From the US embassy cables revealed by WikiLeaks, dispiriting evidence in the Guardian that Francis Campbell, Britain’s Irish Catholic ambassador to the Vatican, sided with the ecumenical wafflers in his own Church – I’m thinking chiefly of his friend Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor – against a Pope who was trying to create unity between Anglo-Catholics and Rome through the Ordinariate.
Campbell wouldn’t agree with that analysis, but his melodramatic warnings of “violence against Catholics” and his prophecies of a disastrous papal visit are appallingly wide of the mark. My observations on the contents of the leaked cable are in square brackets and in bold:
In a subsequent conversation with DCM after Williams’ departure, Campbell (strictly protect) said Anglican-Vatican relations were facing their worst crisis in 150 years [inaccurate – there was a worse crisis in the 1890s] a result of the Pope’s decision. The Vatican decision seems to have been aimed primarily at Anglicans in the U.S. and Australia [dubious], with little thought given to how it would affect the center of Anglicanism, England, or the Archbishop of Canterbury. [Not true. It’s just that the Pope, the English Anglo-Catholic bishops and the CDF chose not to confide details to opponents of the scheme, such as Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, the ecumenists, and Dr Williams – lest they torpedo it]. Benedict XVI, Campbell said, had put Williams in an impossible situation. If Williams reacted more forcefully, he would destroy decades of work on ecumenical dialogue [oh, please: the dialogue achieved little and had run into the ground 20 years earlier]; by not reacting more harshly, he has lost support among angry Anglicans. The crisis is also worrisome for England’s small, mostly Irish-origin, Catholic minority, Campbell said. There is still latent anti-Catholicism in some parts of England and it may not take much to set it off. The outcome could be discrimination or in isolated cases, even violence [uh? this isn’t your native Northern Ireland, Mr Ambassador], against this minority. As for the Pope’s visit next year to England, Campbell said he now expected a chilly reception [he expected wrong, so far as the British people were concerned], especially from the Royal family – which was not a great supporter of ecumenical dialogue even before the crisis. [Interesting, but the reception from the Queen was not “chilly”. Admittedly, Charles was rude in declining to meet the Pope – his loss.]
And there’s this passage, which implies that Campbell bought hook, line and sinker the Murphy-O’Connor/Kasper line that it was the Pope who shifted the ecumenical goalposts, not the Anglicans by deciding to ordain women bishops:
Campbell (protect) believes the Vatican’s move shifted the goal of the Catholic-Anglican ecumenical dialogue from true unity [100 per cent unachievable thanks to the Anglicans] to mere cooperation. He further noted that some Vatican officials themselves believe that Williams should have been consulted – instead of simply told – about the apostolic constitution. [But the officials were really cross because THEY weren’t consulted.] (Comment: Campbell was probably referring to Cardinal Kasper, who runs the Council for Christian Unity.) [And a certain ambitious English monsignor?]
It’s not hard to guess who had been briefing Campbell: the fantasy-merchants of ARCIC (former chairman, CMOC) and the Vatican ecumenical lobby, gloriously sidelined by the Pope at the request of Anglo-Catholic bishops who wanted full communion with the Holy See and saw this mafia of the mediocre standing in their way.
Francis Campbell; Cormac Murphy-O’Connor; Tony Blair. All good mates and all soft-Left defenders of the ecumenical status quo, keen to keep +Rowan happy. But, come January, the English Ordinariate will be founded, and a great blessing it will prove, too. Some cradle Catholics will welcome it; others will be suspicious. Either way, I’d be surprised if they’re set upon by Protestant mobs.