At the bottom of the table would come one Arthur Roche, who for reasons beyond the comprehension of rational humanity, is the front runner for the Archdiocese of Westminster with its associated red hat.
I have a German book at home about the lives of the Renaissance cardinals, “In pursuit of the Red Hat”. For all their extreme worldliness not one of them would have dared to do it over the ruins of murdered parishes and shuttered churches in contempt of the faithful who worshiped in those places week by week.
The very name of Arthur Roche is bringing terror to the clergy of Westminster, whether (using the categories taken from secular politics) of left or right. Cathcon has heard from his contacts on the left (yes, Cathcon, the son of a trade union leader does have them!) that Bishop Roche allegedly indulged in quasi- mafia bullying in Leeds. He has surrounded himself by a praetorian guard of trusties, but the parish clergy don’t get consulted rather are more likely to be on the receiving on of a bullying visit when it is considered necessary to bring them into line. Money flows not to the benefit of the parishes but to provide the Bishop with personal staff.
Cathcon has learnt that the Vicar General is abusive and short-tempered; letters from parishioners complaining about the closure of their churches went unanswered. Not even a standard form of reply.
A clergy in fear will never be united around their bishop. And even among my true comrades at the Oratory, that sacrosanct bastion of all the good that is preserved from traditional English Catholicism, whose deep faith and practice is entirely concurrent with that of the present Pope, are fearful that Bishop Roche will try to make an example out of them.
Bishop Roche believes that the use of Episcopal power should be unfettered. Clergy in Leeds do not see him however as their bishop but as a control freak. Revealingly, a fortune has been spent on a new Episcopal throne.
The divisions in the Church which the post-conciliar age has made visible have been felt in Westminster as much if not more than in the rest of the Catholic world. Cardinal Hume for all his expensive taste in shoes (1000 pounds a pair for one monk) and his desire to be numbered (and buried!) among the English saints and Cardinal Cormac who studied disloyalty to the Benedictine reforms has surely been noticed in Rome, at least kept the show on the road. The appointment of Roche will spark two simultaneous rebellions who will almost certainly join forces, both from the progressive and conservative ranks of the Church.
Bishop Roche is aged only 59: if appointed, he will set about closing and merging parishes with a vengeance. And this could go on for almost 20 years! The other dioceses will follow his “leadership”- he will lead the Catholic Church in this country away from the promised land and into the desert.
Some advice to the Vatican, “Google Arthur Roche”. No holocaust denier, but just to show how much he is out of tune with the intentions of the Pope on liturgical reform, take a look at the chapel of his Episcopal residence- and such a Bishop is to be entrusted with the glory of Westminster Cathedral.
No liturgical sense- font in front of tabernacle
Is this an altar of sacrifice?
English and Welsh Catholicism need and deserve an Archbishop of much higher quality to prepare them for the challenges of the coming century. Catholics will emerge triumphant but not under the leadership of Bishop Roche. The Bishop's motto is "Launch out into the deep " (a quote from Luke 5:4), which can be taken in a variety of ways.
St Augustine of Canterbury, pray for us!
St Dominic Barberi, pray for us!