Prelates remain cautious on conversion
BY CRISTINA ODONE Two CATHOLIC BISHOPS have denied charges of placing obstacles in the way of wouldbe Anglican converts.
Bishop Patrick Kelly of Salford and Bishop Leo McCartie of Northampton were responding to complaints by a number of Anglicans in their dioceses who have written to Cardinal Basil Hume protesting at the bishops'"hardline" stand on Anglicans considering the Rome option.
Bishop Patrick Kelly told the Catholic Herald this week that "What they saw as a cold reception was simply caution. I am absolutely terrified of creating too great expectations."
Bishop Leo McCartie agreed that "caution, not cold feet" dictated both bishops' responses.
Rev Derrick Lowe, rector of St Benedict's, Hardwick, Manchester, visited Bishop Kelly with a delegation of 45 Anglican clergymen last month. He said the bishop's reservations focused on reardination of Anglican clergy, in particular on married clergy.
Rev Lowe stressed that "Bishop Kelly was courteous throughout... but when it came to what to do, we thought it was a rather hard line." Bishop Kelly outlined a seven-year path to Rome for those seeking re-ordination.
A spokesman for the group said its 80-90 members have been exploring the idea of moving to Rome as a congre gation. "Several of us have written to the Cardinal to express our disappointment," he said.
A spokesman for Cardinal Hume acknowledged that "the Cardinal has received a very large number of letters expressing a wide variety of views".
Bishop Alan Clark of East Anglia told the Catholic Herald that he had heard "of complaints from Anglicans about one of our bishops", which he found "disturbing". But he stressed that Anglicans should remember that "the cardinal has said we must create an atmosphere of welcome".
Bishop McCartie pointed out that bishops could act independently, within their own dioceses, on the issue of Anglican converts. He said that the Bishops' Secretariat was at present drafting a set of national guidelines. "No one must feel pushed away, but we must all realise that this is not an easy move," the bishop warned.