I skip the statements-of-the-obvious about our Holy Father's generosity in Anglicanorum coetibus (everybody else has been busy doing that) to make a couple of ecclesiological points.
In the nineteenth century, the appointment of bishops in the Latin church was, by a process of bureaucratic centralisation, removed from the local churches who, in primitive days, chose their own Bishop. Previously, various customary processes had survived in a lot of places: election, for example, by the Chapter. By the time that Canon Law came to be revised in the twentieth century, only a handful of examples of the old ways survived. The usage of the Western Church at this present time is that a diplomat - the nuncio - consults around and submits to Rome three names: a terna.
In AC, the terna, it is true, survives. But it is to be submitted to Rome by the Priests' Council, the Governing Body, of the Ordinariate. I find this remarkable ... and I wonder what some episcopal conferences will make of it. This is the first time for centuries that the centralising impetus of the Counter-Reformation has been rolled back. I am not surprised that it is this Pontiff who has done it; I wrote a post some months ago in which I speculated on just such a move by Benedict (you read it all first in Hunwicke). But I am surprised that it is in the Ordinariates erected for 'schismatical' Anglicans that he has made this move. It shows how very great is his confidence in Anglican Catholics. But then ... he has made it his business to find out about us. And (to return to another of my own brilliant diagnoses), since Papa Ratzinger is the first Anglican Pope, he clearly has a personal sympathy and fellow-feeling for us.
The second ecclesiological point is the power he gives to Governing Bodies with regard to the admission of candidates to Holy Orders. Gregory Dix, our Anglican Catholic scourge of prelacy, loved to point out that Jurisdiction, as we know it, did not exist in the early church. "One only has to read the anxious apologies which Cyprian sends to his clergy for having in an emergency ordained a subdeacon and a lector without their express consent, to realise how limited was the bishop's prerogative in such matters. ... in the pre-Nicene Church the bishop's part is simply the essential sacramental act of laying on hands, for which episcopal orders are the indispensible qualification. But he cannot exercise this power at his own discretion, but only with the consent of his church".
For years now, we Anglican Catholics have prided ourselves on having made the rediscovery, through experiencing the Flying Bishop system, of true, unprelatical, episcopacy. Quite a long time ago Rutupiensis said "Remember, fathers, that the only jurisdiction we have is what you give us". We're very proud of this; and I for one regard it as one of the most valuable elements of our Patrimony.
I am glad the Holy Father does too. And I am very impressed by the extent to which he has identified and tried to preserve our Patrimony. Patrimony is not just a matter of Choral Evensong with Vergers and Stanford in Z Flat; and Needlework.
Not that Needlework is without its significance. I hope to return tomorrow with some thoughts about the Pope and the Needlework.