In a note released after the election of the new Pope, Francis I, on March 13 Bishop Venables wrote:
“Many are asking me what Jorge Bergoglio is really like. He is much more of a Christian, Christ centered and Spirit filled, than a mere churchman. He believes the Bible as it is written. I have been with him on many occasions and he always makes me sit next to him and invariably makes me take part and often do what he as Cardinal should have done. He is consistently humble and wise, outstandingly gifted yet a common man. He is no fool and speaks out very quietly yet clearly when necessary. He called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the church needs us as Anglicans. I consider this to be an inspired appointment not because he is a close and personal friend but because of who he is In Christ. Pray for him.”
How do we interpret this?
“The ordinariate was quite unnecessary” – The Ordinariates have concerned only those Anglicans who were disposed to become conservative Roman Catholics, albeit with some Anglican “acculturation”. “The Church needs us as Anglicans” – a Franciscan Papacy is likely to be more interested in conservative Evangelicals as a missionary force among the lapsed, indifferent and unchurched than in ritualist Anglo-Catholics.
Does this really reflect the mind of the new Pope?
I read this in an e-mail reply to one of Dr Tighe’s send-outs:
And, with the paltry numbers that have come into communion, I suspect Anglicans have fallen with SSPX to the bottom of Rome’s agenda.
Schadenfreude is just not my way, and it is far too early to tell what Pope Francis is going to do with Benedict XVI’s incomplete achievements (Anglicanorum coetibus and Summorum Pontificium in particular). My analytical mind is beginning to crystallise Pope Francis not as a modernist or a liberal, but Rome’s version of a conservative Evangelical. Labels and churchmanships have their limits as we try to reason things out and see clearly.