Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The conundrum of last night's Papal Vespers and the 'absence' of English/Welsh bishops

A few facts:

1. I watched the whole celebration of last evening's Vespers live on kto tv, and aside from being exasperatedly amused that the French commentator referred to Dr Rowan Williams as Mgr. Williams, was dismayed that not one of our English/Welsh bishops appeared to be there, not even Archbishop Nichols, unless he and they were hiding behind pillars for reasons one dreads to contemplate.

2. Fr Blake stated on his 'Saint Mary Magdalen' blog, that he understood that all the members of the English and Welsh Conference, present in Rome for the current ad limina visit, had been invited to attend.

3. I've so far been unable to verify, a) whether they were there or not and b) that Father's understanding is justified. As to a) visual evidence tells me they were not there. As to b) it is impossible to know.

4. To orthodox catholics this was an important ecumenical occasion at the Holy Father's behest, and if the E & W bishops failed to turn up, then I am deeply depressed, distressed and disappointed in them, not the least because of the bad manners they thus displayed towards the Holy Father, but also because I had longed with all my heart and soul to see my compatriot pastors surrounding Pope Benedict and giving a show of solidarity. I pray that tomorrow I'll wake up to find that my disappontment in this has all been a bad dream.

5. I said earlier that I'd read that Rowan Williams was going to be there. He most definitely was not. And yet he was the only English/Welsh person mentioned in the commentary. His representative from the Anglican Centre in Rome read one lesson, whilst for the Orthodox, the Maltese Patriarch read another.

I will wait in the hope of gleaning more before writing further. My husband says that if they absented themselves, they intended a deliberate snub to the Holy Father and that perhaps they still don't realise that the rest of us, via the internet, may come to realise this.. Is it the case that there are now two ecumenisms, the Pope's and theirs, and that whereas he has made it clear in words and action that he continues to suppport theirs, they are not prepared to do the same in regard to his?

I pray it is not so. I want to be told something that will make us both eat our words in public via this blog.

Lord have mercy on our Pope, on our bishops, and on us all.


berenike said...

Perhaps they were still busy in talks with curial officials, working on the implementation of ecumenical moves like AngCoet. Or some other perfectly reasonable reason.

Jane said...

Berenike: Thanks for your comment.

Not if, as Fr Blake understood, they were all invited to the Vespers, which in itself was an importantly public part of the ecumenical moves you mention.

John B. Chilton said...

Rowan Williams was in New York collecting the Jesuit's Campion Award on Monday. While you could argue that could have been rescheduled, he had a longstanding agreement to speak at Trinity Institute at Trinity Wall Street Episcopal at its annual conference which opened this morning (Wednesday).

Jane said...


Thanks very much for your help. At least that's one thing explained.
Still no news about 'our lot' though!

David A. said...

I really don't think there is any need to worry about the absence of the English group from Vespers. You will not find a bishop more supportive of Pope Benedict than Archbishop Nichols and you can really rely on there being a perfectly straightforward explanation for his group's absence.

Jane said...

David: Thanks for your encouragement. Yes, I tend to agree with you about ++ Nichols. Will try to explain my 'nerves' in another post later on. If not, will email you!

Anonymous said...

This should not be rocket science; we are talking of the whereabouts on 25th Jan of 30 Brits, dressed in distinctive garb, in a city not much bigger than Bristol. If it were St Peters, the behind pillar thesis would be plausible, but not in St Pauls o/s the walls, unless they were spread out 2 to each pillar. Did they travel on Ryanair flight which,to cut costs, did not inform them of the time difference, and so arrived just as Vespers ended...?
At Wednesday's General Audience, these same 30 Brits were again conspicuous by their absence.Surely by then, after several missed meals, they would have reset their watches? The plot thickens...

Jane said...


They were there on Monday.
Yes, I too noted the absence of any high profile presence at the General Audience. Was delibearely looking for them, as you won't be surprised to hear.

I'm sorry, but whatever they've been doing in Rome, when not actually in private audience with the Holy Father, they evidently seem to have priories other than listening to the Holy Father's homilies and catecheses. If they are still in Rome this coming Wednesday, which seems likely since only a third have yet 'been in' to give an account of their dioceses,and they miss a second General Audience, then I think there's real cause for concern, at the very least at their demonstrably appalling manners.

I don't buy this excuse that they were attending curial meetings, over and above a Papal liturgy. Nobody has offered any proof of that as an explanation. I only wish they would or could.

We'll see what happens during the rest of the ad limina and then I'll probably post again about it. As it is, I'm already minded to write to ++Nichols about it. I'd be within my rights to do so as a Westminster catholic council tax payer.

In the meantime had a smile at your projected 'explanations' and love your pseudonym and the saint it honours.

Best wishes for a good remainder of Sunday,
With my prayers for the week ahead.