Much ado has been made of the controversy swirling about the Pope prior to his coming visit to the UK. Fire, meet some fuel.

[Telegraph] The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that bishops travelled to the Holy See last week to hold face to face discussions with senior members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful of the Vatican’s departments.

The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Rt Rev Keith Newton and the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, the bishops of Fulham, Richborough and Ebbsfleet respectively, are understood to have informed senior Catholic officials that Church of England clergy are keen to defect to Rome.

It is the first significant response to the Papal offer made last year, which opened the doors for Anglicans to convert while retaining key elements of their tradition.

The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, was unaware of the summit, which is likely to prove embarrassing to the Catholic Church ahead of the Pope’s visit to Britain later this year as it will rekindle fears that it is trying to poach Anglican clergy.

Wow. Damian Thompson adds this interesting little tidbit.

A leading Anglo-Catholic source contacts me this morning naming at least one English Catholic bishop whom he thinks was in Rome for this summit. He confirms that “very few people on our side” (ie, the C of E) knew it was happening. Catholic bishops may have known, and are very unhappy at being bypassed.

Thought the media was out to destroy the Pop’s visit to the UK before? If this happens they will beside themselves.