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Fr Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Catholic bishops' conference, says that the ordinariate will need a 'principal church' where the ordinary is based (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

But they cannot: this is an idea whose time has come

The late Cardinal Hume withdrew his support for parish-based conversions in the early 1990s because of the opposition of some bishops (Photo: PA)

In the words of Cardinal Ratzinger then, ‘what are the English bishops afraid of?’