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Friday, December 10, 2010

Opus Dei and Anglican Ordinariates

I've been wondering when the Vatican would surface in WikiLeaks :) I saw today that some leaked US embassy cables touch on the Holy See. A story in The New York Times mentions cables that reference Opus Dei .....

Leaked Cables Show Vatican Tensions and Diplomacy With U.S.

[...] Some cables read in part like thrillers, like when Opus Dei, the powerful religious order, took pains to distance itself from one of its members: Robert P. Hanssen, an F.B.I. agent who in a dramatic case in 2001 pleaded guilty to being a longtime Russian spy [see my 2007 post on the movie Breach] .....

In one of the most mysterious cables in the lot, in March 2001, the chancellor of the Prelature of Opus Dei, the Rev. Thomas G. Bohlin, “requested an urgent meeting” with the chargé d’affaires at the American Embassy to the Holy See. “Bohlin said that Opus Dei had conducted an accounting of all financial contributions” made by Mr. Hanssen, then accused and later convicted of spying for Russia.

Father Bohlin “claimed that Hanssen contributed $4,000 through 1992 and made no contributions after 1992” and added that when arrested he was still “a member in good standing.”

“Request for urgent meeting struck post as unusual. This is the first time Opus Dei has officially asked for a meeting,” the cable continued. “It appears that Opus Dei is attempting to preempt any charges that it profited financially from alleged activities of Hanssen.”


And at The Guardian, there's a story about leaked cables and the pope's offer to disaffected Anglicans. Here's a bit of the story ...

WikiLeaks: Pope's offer to Anglicans risked 'violence against Catholics'

The British ambassador to the Vatican warned that Pope Benedict XVI's invitation to Anglican opponents of female priests to convert en masse to Catholicism was so inflammatory that it might lead to discrimination and even violence against Catholics in Britain, according to a secret US diplomatic cable.

Talking to an American diplomat after the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, met the pope in November 2009, Francis Campbell said the surprise Vatican move had placed Williams "in an impossible situation" and "Anglican-Vatican relations were facing their worst crisis in 150 years as a result of the pope's decision".

Campbell's strikingly candid comments are documented in one of a series of confidential dispatches from Washington's Vatican embassy released by WikiLeaks. Others reveal that:

• US diplomats believed the pope was instrumental in securing the release of 15 British sailors captured and held by Iran in 2007.

• The Vatican refused to allow its officials to testify before an Irish commission investigating abuse of children by priests and was angered when they were summoned from Rome.

• The pope was responsible for the Vatican's resistance to Turkey joining the EU and wanted a reference to Europe's "Christian roots" included in the EU constitution.


Campbell, himself a Catholic, made his remarks in a conversation with the American deputy chief of mission to the Holy See, Julieta Valls Noyes, after the pope decided to announce a special dispensation allowing disaffected Anglicans to convert in groups while retaining their own leadership and some of their rites, in a body called an Ordinariate.

This had been arranged in Rome behind the backs of the English Catholic bishops, and Williams was given little warning. An official Vatican statement described the November 2009 meeting between Williams and the pontiff as cordial, but Campbell told the US ambassador, theology professor Miguel Diaz, that it was "at times awkward" ........

The ambassador told Noyes the decision had shifted the goal of the Catholic-Anglican ecumenical dialogue "from true unity to mere co-operation" and claimed that some Vatican officials believed the pope had been wrong not to consult the archbishop before making the announcement.

The cable continued: "The Vatican decision seems to have been aimed primarily at Anglicans in the US and Australia, with little thought given to how it would affect the centre of Anglicanism, England, or the archbishop of Canterbury. Benedict XVI, Campbell said, had put Williams in an impossible situation. If Williams reacted more forcefully, he would destroy decades of work on ecumenical dialogue; by not reacting more harshly, he has lost support among angry Anglicans."

Reporting back to Washington, the US diplomats wonder "whether the damage to inter-Christian relations was worth it – especially since the number of disaffected Anglicans that will convert is likely to be a trickle rather than a wave".

Out of the Church of England's 114 bishops, three have since announced that they will be joining the new Ordinariate, joined by two retired ones. All of them are long-standing opponents of female priests. It is expected that they will be joined by 50 of the church's 10,000 priests with elements of their congregations .....


There are many other cables mentioning the Vatican which can be found here.


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