The F in F meeting last Saturday showed some signs of a division into two tendencies. There were those who set their sights on fighting the legislation for women bishops all the way to success; those who felt that the game was up and that Plan B should come into play. There floated before my eyes a draft Liturgy of Ecclesial Realignment:
Anglican priest Morning, Bishop. Having believed the whole Faith for 55 years as an Anglican priest, I have discerned that this is the moment humbly to seek full communion.
RC Bishop We don't accept single issue converts. If you're one of these troublemakers who have been so noisy about women bishops ...
Priest I don't believe that women can be bishops, but I'm not single issue. For all my life I've accepted all the defined doctrines of the Church including those of Vatican One ...
Bishop Did you say Vatican One?
Priest, failing to notice the thunderous brow Yup. Pastor aeternus and all that. First rate stuff.
Bishop That's as may be. I don't say it is and I don't say it isn't. But you sound a prickly sort of chap to me.
Priest Bishop, I just thought that, now your diocesan establishment is down to nine priests with an average age of 81, I might be of some use to you.
Bishop It's far too early to think about the possibility of ordination. You'll have to spend many, many years acclimatising yourself as a layman to our Catholic culture, before the question even arises.
Priest Well, I think I do know fairly well ...
Bishop Let me test you. What is the first thing that a priest says at the start of Mass after crossing himself in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?
Priest Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui ...
Bishop (the veins in his firehead bulging dangerously) In fact, I think I have already discerned that God is not calling you to priesthood. You are clearly too young/old, you are under/over qualified, you are encumbered with a wife/unmarried and therefore presumably homosexual, in fact I think I recall my chum Jim/Jack/Bob/Bill, the bishop of Barchester, talking about you only the other day. He said that you were a pain in ... that you were not well adapted to modern models of collaborative ministry.
I think we need something supervised closely by Rome herself, a group reconciliation with in-built very fast tracks, with transfer of property to an Anglican Catholic entity in full communion but retaining its native culture. I do not yet feel called to abandon the unreformed baroque ambience of S Thomas's and my Tridentine Missal in order to spend my declining years in the lay state enduring whatever parodies of Christian worship go on in some RC parish churches. Not to mention the sermons. Yes, I know what conclusions some will draw from that.