Fr Ray Blake has scooped the world by announcing that the somewhat overdue Ad Limina visit by the Bishops of England and Wales is now scheduled for January.
What I know of the mechanics of these visits is a bit limited: I know that the Bishops' Conference has to send in a report; I know that each Bishop has a private one-to-one with the Pope; I know that a final statement which can include what in secular terms might be called an "Action Plan" is published by the Vatican at the end of the visit.
What I don't know is how the Vatican carries out its own preparation for the visit: presumably the Nuncio has a significant input, but who else has? Can anybody write in? To whom? And if the answer is "yes", will anybody at the Vatican end actually bother to read what is sent?
My experience suggests that October and November will be when the preparatory work for a January visit will be carried out, leaving December for the Holy Father and his advisors to take their position and raise any last minute queries.
That gives us seven or eight weeks.
Great as is my admiration for Archbishop Nichols, I can't believe that he is yet in a position to achieve authoritative editorial control over what the staff at the Bishops' Conference will produce: it will be full of self-congratulatory guff about this or that pastoral initiative, and will give an impression of a Church in E&W in which clergy and laity (I nearly wrote workers by hand or brain) are well on the way to achieving the Kingdom through support to the third world and a drive for carbon neutrality or even negativity.
If anybody knows how we can counter this, will they please speak up.
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