In their joint letter of resignation, the five bishops said they were “distressed by developments … in Anglicanism which we believe to be incompatible with the historic vocation of Anglicanism and the tradition of the Church for nearly two thousand years.”
They said Pope Benedict’s invitation was “a generous response” to distressed Anglicans and “a bold, new ecumenical instrument in the search for the unity of Christians. … It is a unity, we believe, which is possible only in eucharistic communion with the successor of St Peter.”
Bishop Broadhurst said there remains a debate in more traditional Anglican parishes in England. Priests and lay people alike are contemplating their next steps. "Lots of people are interested" in pursuing the Pope’s invitation, he said.
Auxiliary Bishop Alan Hopes of Westminster is the point man on the Anglican issue for the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales. He said the bishops will be considering the new “personal ordinariates” in their countries during their annual meeting next week.
Vatican Radio reported Nov. 10 that the head of the English Anglicans, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, will travel to the Vatican next week. He is to take part in celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Nov. 17.
Archbishop Williams is not scheduled to meet with the Pope. However, last year, when tensions arose after the Pope’s invitation to Anglicans, Archbishop Williams did travel to Rome for a private meeting with the Pontiff.
Archbishop Williams greeted news of the five bishops’ resignation with “regret.” In a statement, he said: "We wish them well in this next stage of their service to the Church." he said.
Whatever shape the ordinariate takes, for now, they are interested in having a good relationship with English Catholic hierarchy and maintaining their friendship with the Anglican Church, Bishop Broadhurst said.
He compared it to a failed marriage in which the spouses "break up." Some "are nasty," while in others "people manage to be decent to each other. Well, I hope as Christians that we can be respectful.”
"I really do think that it's got to work, but it's a sensitive situation both within the Church of England and in the Catholic Church," he concluded.
Msgr. Marc Langham of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told CNA that the new Anglican jurisdictions may produce some unexpected fallout in Catholic-Anglican relations.
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“It perhaps will mean that there will no longer be a voice within Anglicanism ... speaking in defense of that relationship with the Roman Catholic Church,” he said.
Pope Benedict has repeatedly said that he has no interest in encouraging the further splintering of the Anglican communion, Msgr. Langham said.
As for the unprecedented question of ordinariates, Msgr. Langham said that the interested Anglicans he has spoken with "really want to wait and see what the ordinariate looks like."
Questions such as "how it will work, how it will run, how it will be financed, what it's relationship will be to the local Catholic community" are on the top of their minds.
"Anglican ministers are going to give up a great deal before moving to this, and so I think are waiting really for a bit more information about it," he said.
The "short answer," Msgr. Langham said, is that no one knows how many people might eventually join the U.K. ordinariate.