Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The cloak and dagger Catholics

An extraordinary correspondence has fallen into my hands showing some of the detail of the Anglo-Catholic intrigues about their departure from the Church of England. It shows the Anglican "flying bishop" of Ebbsfleet, Andrew Burnham, conspiring with a sympathetic Roman Catholic bishop in Australia to work behind the back of the Catholic bishops here. He talks about his "cloak and dagger" correspondence with a sympathiser in the Vatican, and suggests that he can write personally to Pope Benedict XVI to smooth things over if his correspondent is caught. This may come as news to the pope.

The Australian bishop, Peter Elliott, is himself an Anglican convert, and is in charge of the pope's outreach to Anglican opponents of women priests in Australia. Most of these are grouped in a body called the Traditional Anglican Communion, which claims to have half a million members world wide: Burnham warns Bishop Elliott against complete confidence in their leader, Archbishop Hepworth ("clearly a charming man … but not everything he says … synchronises fully with what we know from other sources"). Read more
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