It was hard to keep up with all the incredible developments last week. First there was the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX bishops which was quite a surprise. Excommunication is a `medicinal` penalty designed to stop the offender doing whatever he was doing and come back to the straight and narrow. The SSPX bishops have carried on doing exactly what they intended to do in 1988 so why was the penalty revoked? Well the Pope is the Supreme Legislator and if he, in a particular case, decides that it is right to lift the penalty then that is perfectly in accord with the law. The result has been an increase of good will towards the Holy See by the SSPX so that we have news of bishop Fellay saying that he can accept Vatican II and the unexpected development of bishop Williamson apologising to the Holy See. Neither of these were things I ever expected to see. When I saw bishop Fellay in Gateshead last year, issuing his normal criticisms of the Vatican then I thought this was not a man who would ever submit to the Holy See. Bishop Williamson`s long-standing attacks on the `Romans` never led me to believe that he could apologise to the Holy Father for the embarrassment his stupid comments caused.
Then there was the story of the 400,000 ex-Anglicans who may be accepted into the Catholic Church in some corporate move, preserving their Anglican ethos as far as that is possible. This may have important ramifications for England. I have never found Christian Unity week to be so interesting. Normally it is a time for empty platitudes. After all it as the Church of England that put paid to any hopes of re-union by the unilateral decision to go ahead with the ordination of women. It was the Anglicans who thought that ecumenism was not that important. Ever since then the whole thing has been rather pointless but this initiative may lead the way for more Anglicans to seek re-union with the Holy See.
The appointment of a new Patriarch in Moscow brings with it the prospect of closer union and maybe even full communion.
I can hardly begin to wonder what this week will bring? After all some people are forecasting Tuesday as the day for a formal reconciliation of the SSPX with the Holy See. Maybe we will finally get a new archbishop of Westminster and he will be a surprise rather than being one of the usual suspects.