I have spent what seems an inordinate amount of time recently ploughing my way through "The Worlock Archive" and Archbishop Bugnini's history of the reform of the Liturgy. The direness of the latter will become apparent in some future post (though I think I am amassing evidence to prove my point that the man was wrong-headed and out of his depth rather than malevolent).
Reading the former was like bathing in something unpleasant: good for the soul but bad for the senses. But one startlingly good thing shines out like a light.
Cardinal Heenan did not like Worlock: in fact, I think that it is not stretching the point to say that he loathed him. Worlock was the apparatchik that Heenan never was, and the Cardinal hated the fact that Worlock saw the See of Westminster and the Red Hat as his manifest destiny.
So Cardinal Heenan put a spoke in the irresistible rise of Derek Worlock: a couple of years before his death he invited the priests and people of his Archdiocese to think about who they might want as his successor; what qualities should the Archbishop of Westminster have? And he asked them to let the Apostolic Delegate know.
Liberated from the complaisant acquiescent stereotype in which English Catholics had allowed themselves to be understood from within and without the Church, the people spoke and wrote, and eventually the Abbot of Ampleforth rather than the Bishop of Portsmouth was appointed to the See. ("The best man did not win", Worlock said.)
Cardinal Murphy O'Connor has not invited the people to express an opinion. It is unlikely that he loathes any member of the Bishops' Conference, after all, and he is probably pretty sanguine about his successor: it will be one of the boys.
But it doesn't have to be. Fr Ray, here, has said exactly what has gone wrong in the role of the laity in the Church, and, more jocularly, in response to a couple of blog posts, said here what he would do were he to be appointed Archbishop (elevated Gloucester Old Spots noted).
This can be the start of the mass consultation that Cardinal MO'C has not asked for. Let's all start writing to the Apostolic Nuncio now, and tell him what we think the big issues facing our Church are, and how they can be resolved, and, if we have any idea, who might be the right person to resolve them.
Blogging is fun; letting Rome know what the Church in England and Wales know is rather more important.