Much of the analysis suggests that Francis's priority will be to decentralize power, significantly reducing the capacity of the Curia - and especially Curial careerists - to run the Church without much concern for the pastoral implications of hardline decisions.
As an Anglican, I find it more than a little ironic that, as Rome begins to inch away from authoritarian centralization, so many Anglicans seem to want to move towards it. Both GAFCON and the Anglican Covenant are attempts to radically restructure the Anglican Communion in the direction of greater centralization.
We are not A world-wide Church, nor have we ever been. We are a family of Churches bound by aspects of shared history and by mutual affection. Just as "The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in thei Realm of England," so also the Bishop of Abuja hath no authority in Canada, nor the Bishop of Gasabo authority in the the United States. The mischief of the GAFCON folk will either fizzle or split the Communion, but ultimately any attempt to force all Anglicans (particularly those in Europe and North America) to submit to the authoritarian impulses of an Akinola or an Orombi is doomed to failure no matter the amount of post-colonial guilt.
But neither will the former Archbishop of Canterbury's more subtle attempt at centralization and curialization. Despite the organizational advantage of controlling all information coming out of Lambeth Palace, Church House and the Anglican Communion Office, Archbishop Williams could not get the Church of England to support his proposed Anglican Covenant. I am very proud to have been part of the Band of Bloggers that threw a spanner into those works.
Like many an Anglo-Catholic, I've always said we can learn from Rome. At the moment, I think we might learn that centralized authority isn't always what it's cracked up to be. I don't know that we need an Anglican Francis. We were never (deo gratias) as centralized as Rome. But we certainly do not need to rush headlong into the very sort of centralization Rome has come to find wanting.
The title of the post comes from the satirical song The Vicar of Bray, the tale of a Church of England cleric who works assiduously to support the current ecclesiastical standard during the period from the reign of Charles II to the reign of George I. During the time of James II (and VII), he supports the king's opposition to the penal laws which oppressed Roman Catholics and dissenting Protestants and he reads the king's Declaration of Indulgence, which, contrary to propaganda, would have extended religious liberty. Because James II was a Roman Catholic and "popery grew in fashion," the Vicar of Bray suggests he'd have become a Jesuit if not for the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688 which overthrew the king. The line was chosen, obviously in reference to the fact that Francis is a Jesuit, not to any suggestion that I might "swim the Tiber." Though if I did, I've always had a soft spot for the Jesuits. I went to a Jesuit college in my undergraduate degree after all.