There seems to be a consensus emerging on the Italian blogosphere (as on Palazzo Apostolico among many others) that our new Nuncio was appointed because of his success in soothing the volatile temperament of the Russian Orthodox. In this his achievement has in all regards been conspicuous. He is, it is said, expected to perform the same miracle with the Church of England. Let us set aside the question of whether the aggrieved sensibilities of the CofE are perceived to be more important than the aggrieved sensibilities of the Russian Orthodox, or the extent to which either side brought it on themselves. What matters is that Mennini was perceived to have done a good job, and it is hoped that he will do it again.
It would appear that the Vatican has been serious in its post-Williamsongate (sorry!) intention to scan the online media, and has taken to reading Wikileaks among other things, and believes the Church of England to have been seriously annoyed by the establishment of the Ordinariates. This might a be a correct assumption, however incorrect the attribution of this opinion to Francis Campbell (whom I continue to believe to be a good thing). The Church has (in my view correctly) seen it as an important project to maintain good relations with non-Catholic bodies. The fact that the Church of England has taken some steps recently which have had seriously anti-ecumenical consequences (meaning that they see ecumenism as being less important than these other matters) does not change that. Eastern Churches frequently stamp off in dudgeon about some matter or other (I remember a formal breaking off of all dialogue with Rome by the Greeks because Rome exhibited a Macedonian icon in the Vatican museum) but despite the fact that actual unity has been postponed by the CofE sine die (unless we abandon our antediluvian ideas and join them in ordaining those whom our Lord did not), the Church still wishes, like a loving Mother, to keep the lines of communication open. This is good and Christian behaviour.
So Mennini's job is, they say, to soothe the savage breast and restore ecumenical equilibrium. I think, though, that the Secretariate of State has overestimated the problem, despite everything I wrote above. The Church of England isn't really that annoyed by the Ordinariates. Papalist Anglo-Catholics have long been a thorn in the side of the Establishment, and I am sure that there are many Anglicans, publicly posturing a 'Papal Aggression' stance, who privately are saying 'good riddance; just make sure they leave the silver spoons behind when they go'.
I believe, too, that the Church of England ought not entirely be allowed to get away with feeling that it occupies the moral high ground on the matter of women's orders, and I also dislike any notion that we Catholics are chasing to ingratiate ourselves once more with the people who caused the problem in the first place. Our first moral duty is to those now limbering up to swim the Tiber. They are our brethren, let us be in no doubt—and Rome is in no doubt—about it.
So Archbishop Mennini's first job is to keep Canterbury sweet. But he shouldn't waste too much time on that matter; it isn't necessary. Canterbury isn't Moscow or Athens (a far more intractable see than Constantinople). Canterbury is far too preoccupied with keeping its much bigger chicks within the nest—and the Anglican Communion right now risks losing far more members to the Southern Cone and the African group than it ever risks losing to us. Canterbury will keep talking to us because it needs to, and because it is right to do so, anyway. If it hesitate, it is because it feels, just a teeny bit, guilty about what has happened. The fulminations of such as Bishop Charteris (in denying Ordinariate swimmers use of London Diocesan property) are really the actions of someone who feels rather insecure, not someone who feels positive about his actions and wishes to make others feel positive too. He wishes to play the 'offended against' card. Sorry, it doesn't convince.
Archbishop Mennini is very welcome to our shores. I really hope he will enjoy his stay among us. Having served in Uganda, he should know some English already, which will help. But let him make no mistake about it: the real issue here is not ecumenism, vital though I genuinely believe that to be, but is to be found in the various talks of the Holy Father on his visit to Britain only a few months ago. Those talks gave huge potential impetus to the faith of the Catholic Church here, and it will be vital to ensure that our future episcopal appointments realize this (in both senses of the word).