If true (and Mrs Gledhill's reporting should sometimes come equipped with a pre-prepared pinch of salt,) this is certainly a remarkable breach of protocol. But who, if anyone, would stand to benefit, as a result of these comments being released at this particular stage? The reported remarks about Anglicanorum Coetibus would have had substance if the Ordinariates had been set up at a time when Catholic / Anglican dialogue had been moving in anything like a positive direction. However, in the light of Cardinal Kasper's own (quite dismissively rejected) appeals both to General Synod and the Lambeth Conference about the contemporary direction of Anglicanism, they seem doubly extraordinary and out of place given the ecumenical realities. If true or if interpreted accurately....
"Retired Vatican prelate lays bare extraordinary divisions in RomeUPDATE: See comments for valuable clarifications of the Cardinal's actual comments - neither truthfully nor accurately reported, it seems. From the enemies and the unfair criticism it is attracting, the Ordinariate seems to have all the right people rattled, doesn't it?
Cardinal Walter Kasper appears to have told the Archbishop of Canterbury at a farewell dinner, the night before the ordinations of Frs Newton, Broadhurst and Burnham, that 'the day of tomorrow is not an easy one for you. It is not a day of victory for one side, it should be for both a day of penance.' Amazing. This video I shot a while ago, in Rome, soon after the constitution had been announced. But it is still relevant to this story. Below are the relevant paragraphs of Kasper's speech, attended also by our outgoing Ambassador to the Vatican Francis Campbell. Campbell's comments on the Ordinariate are among those that emerged in the Wikileaks revelations. Read Austen Ivereigh's comment on that here.
Kasper was of course meant to be among the party travelling with the Pope to Britain last year. He withdrew after his comments describing Britain as a 'third world country.' See our reports in The Times here and here.
Pope Benedict XVI and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who the outgoing Anglican bishops conducted their negotiatons with, have said repeatedly that the Ordinariate is a step forwards in the name of unity.
I had heard that not everyone in the Holy See agreed however. Apparently the first the Council for Christian Unity knew that anything was up was when a party of ecumenical visitors bumped into three - then still Anglican bishops - being escorted round the Scavi, the tombs beneath St Peter's, by prelates from the CDF, sometime in 2009.
Normally the Vatican manages to keep its internal divisions pretty much out of the public domain. But the world is changing.
For the former head of the CCU to suggest the Ordinariate requires 'penance' on both sides, just before the next round of ARCIC talks begin with Birmingham's Archbishop Bernard Longley as co-chair, is a strong indication of the level of disagreement in Rome that exists about to what extent the Ordinariate is thought to be an instrument of unity or division. It also makes public the anguish of the Archbishop of Canterbury. 'I know well, that the day of tomorrow is not an easy one for you,' Kasper tells the diners at Lambeth Palace. Misleadingly, the date on the Archbishop's website of the speech is given as the date it was posted, 20th January, or yesterday. But in fact the speech was delivered when the dinner took place last week, as I reported here. 'Tomorrow' was the day of the ordinations at Westminster Cathedral that we reported here.
Extracts from the Cardinal's address. He stepped down last year as head of the Council for Christian Unity......... etc. "