Roman Holiday


The following email to Archbishop Bernard Longley, Catholic Joint Chairman of ARCIC, has recently leaked from the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Dear Bernard,

I hope you enjoyed our little supper at Il Pagliaccio last night. Rome you will agree is at its best at this time of year.

A word in your ear about the ARCIC agenda. Pope Francis, I gather, is eager that we get on with ‘the relationship between the universal Church and the local Church, with particular reference to processes for discussions and decision making regarding moral and ethical questions’. It’s a tall order  – harder for your people than for us. But in view of the problems you are likely to have with Reinhard Marx after the October Synod, I think we may have some useful experience to bring to the table.

When the Anglican Primates’ Meeting was discussing the ordination of practicing homosexuals as bishops, Frank Griswold (remember him?) signed up to a joint agreement not to go ahead…and then went back to the States and promptly did it. Catholics, I am sure, are all too ready to make a crisis out of something like that  – excommunications, anathemas, or whatever. We Anglicans do things differently. We just ignored it.  We continued as though nothing had happened – with surprisingly few consequences, I can tell you. Of course, some chaps got a bit hot under the collar; but only the Africans and we agree with Walter Kasper about them.

If you get the opportunity I should explain all this to Francis. There is always the danger he might blurt out something silly, populist and spontaneous before people have had a chance to get things properly under control.

Incidentally, have you given any thought to the next ARCIC venue? Madeira? Barbados? Personally, I rather fancy the Victoria Falls.

All good wishes,


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