Several commentators are reporting that the next man to head Westminster will be Bernard Longley.

I prefer to keep out of this kind of speculation, but if true this will be huge for us.  This is the man who led the diocesan negotiations with the SMPC before our move from the Anglican church of St Anne’s into the Catholic parish in Warwick Street.  It has also been reported that he stood up for us and urged their continuation when Murphy O’Connor allegedly wanted to shut us down.

I vividly recall those negotiations. I think we were all impressed with his sincerity and goodwill.  Early in the very first meeting, he spoke of the importance of speaking ‘freely and frankly’.  He proceeded to do just that, expressing clearly some reservations that the diocese had about the gay community in general, and about what they had heard of our Masses in particular.

Following on his example, I then replied with some frank comments about some reservations held by the LGBT community about the Catholic Church and its hierarchy.  From that point onwards, I certainly felt confident that we were able to speak freely and frankly to each other.  We did not always agree, but established very clear common ground in a shared desire for the Masses to continue and to succeed.

He has been widely described as a ‘conservative’.  I have no knowledge on that score, but am confident in this:  if so, he is one conservative I could most certainly work with.

I hope and pray that this rumour is confirmed.

(The most useful report I have found is from Whispers in the Loggia)