The Archbishop of Canterbury is on a pre-arranged visit to the Vatican to address a public conference to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the (then) Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. During his visit, the Archbishop granted an interview to Vatican Radio, the transcript of which can be read on his website.
Vatican Radio reports on the interview: Archbishop of Canterbury on ecumenism, the ordinariate and Pope’s UK visit. This report has links to audio of the interview in Real and mp3 formats.
Tim Ross at the Telegraph reports on part of the interview: Churches lose their vicars as Anglicans “jump ship” for Rome, warns Rowan Williams.9 Comments
Andrew Goddard has written more about the Anglican Covenant at Fulcrum.
In the church press on Friday 29th October, two Church of England groups, Inclusive Church (IC) and Modern Church (formerly, Modern Churchpeople’s Union, MCU), published a whole page advert headed ‘Who runs the Church?’. This explains why they believe the Anglican Covenant would be a change for the worse. Having offered an initial short critique of it, this offers a more detailed analysis of its claims. In the week leading to the Synod debate on the covenant and subsequent diocesan discussion, their seriously flawed case risks being given greater circulation and credibility through the wider international (though predominantly Western liberal) No Anglican Covenant Coalition and other publicity such as the recent similar leaflet sent to General Synod members.
The key questions that need to be answered in relation to the covenant are as follows and each section is hyperlinked here so it can be read on its own
(1) Where does the Anglican Covenant come from, who wants it and why?
(2) What does the Anglican Covenant actually do?
(3) What will happen if the Church of England signs the Anglican Covenant?
(4) But isn’t the covenant disciplinary?
(5) What if…?: Hypothetical futures and pasts
(6) Conclusion: What vision and future for Anglicanism should we embrace?
Read the original to get the links.20 Comments
Its detractors say it will stifle diversity, but unless the church votes for the covenant, deeper divisions will be unavoidable.
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” is a celebrated line in WB Yeats’s 1920 poem The Second Coming. How that relates to the Church of England and the tensions in the wider Anglican communion, 90 years later, we shall witness next week. On Wednesday 24 November, General Synod will be debating the Anglican covenant.
This covenant of unity seeks to hold the Anglican communion together organically in the face of increasing fragmentation. The choice in this debate is to opt into intensifying our world-wide relationships in affection and commitment or to allow splits to develop further and irrevocably. Do we consider each other and decide we belong together, or do we do our own thing and hang apart?
Updated again Wednesday morning
Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Director for Unity Faith and Order, The Anglican Communion Office has written a press release:
Many things have already been said in the public arena about the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant. As Provinces around the world continue to discuss this important document I think it worth clarifying some points about it. I am not arguing here for or against the Covenant, merely pointing out that it should be debated fairly, with an accurate reading of the text…
Bishop Alan WIlson has also commented at Only us, redeemed.
From her rather improbably titled office, Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, “UFO Director at the Anglican Communion Office,” reminds us that the Anglican Covenant hovering over us poses no threat to Churches whose antics may be referred to the First Fifteen, but they must accept that if processes of mediation have broken down their actions have (Euphemism alert) “relational consequences.”
Frankly, this phrase needs very careful handing before can possibly be applied to Christians…
Paul Bagshaw has written What is the Covenant supposed to solve?
…But what problems is the Covenant supposed to solve (now, as opposed to when it was first conceived)?
First, the unity of the Communion. Sadly, I think it’s too late – and perhaps was always too late. In fact it increasingly seems that pushing people to sign will be the last step in the de facto schism. By going for a Covenant that was acceptable to a sufficient majority of the players in Global Anglicanism the Covenant Design Group has failed to bring enough of the Communion on board.
Second, to provide the framework for future disputes. Sadly the Covenant procedures will almost certainly only work for little disputes or issues exclusively between two parties. And they could probably be resolved in any framework.
Or they will work to exclude TEC and Canada – and then everyone will take fright because they could be next. They will move quickly to dismantle the Covenant – it will prove to have been a disastrous one-shell cannon.
The Covenant framework will not be adequate to any significant dispute. It’s back-to-front: what happens is that administrative structures & agreements work because people agree to make them work. In normal times conflicts flow through, and are contained by, the channels of the pre-existing system: people and systems are in continual dialogue. In abnormal (though not uncommon) times disputes overflow the system and leave it in pieces. Then people coming together, pick up the pieces and rebuild. The cycle starts over again: systems cannot be imposed without assent.
Third: as one more step in a long-term programme to reform the Communion by centralising and reducing the differences between provinces. This goal might well be met, in part at least, by the process to arrive at a Covenant as much as by the document itself. In the course of debate, it seems to me, the previously normative idea that the Communion was a federal structure with central consultative bodies seems to have been replaced by the normative idea that the Communion is a single entity whose centre needs to be strengthened because its component parts are too fissiparous.
Bishop Alan Wilson has written at Cif belief about the Anglican Covenant. The article is titled
Niceness may carry the measure, but it won’t make the covenant the turbine of a more mutually engaged global denomination.
In the Hebrew scriptures, people cut covenants by chopping a bird in half and walking between the halves to indicate sincere meeting of hearts and minds.
The Anglican Communion is proposing a fractionally less messy covenant between member churches – part of the fallout from the Windsor report, which attempted to resolve its gay bishops row in 2003. Perceptions have progressed faster these last seven years in the world, perhaps, than in the higher echelons of the Anglican Communion…
George Pitcher wrote in the Telegraph Are Church of England liberals really Nazis?
…Leave aside whether there’s something slightly contradictory about Little Englanders being Nazis and consequently whether you can both be a Nazi at the same time as feeling like you’re facing them in 1939. The real point here is whether there is some sort of concerted effort to paint theological liberals as totalitarian extremists.
If there is, then the language of next week’s General Synod is not likely to be conducive to making any constructive advances on vital issues concerning women bishops or the covenant. And that would be a shame for both sides of the Church’s political spectrum, neither of which are remotely fascist.
Cif belief has as its Question of the Week: Will the covenant kill or cure?
Next week the Church of England’s General Synod will be asked to take an apparently momentous decision. Should it sign up to a formal, international, disciplinary process which would allow other churches a voice on whether it is truly Anglican or not? The proposed Anglican covenant is presented as a means to deepen unity within the Anglican Communion, but it will do so by strengthening discipline.
It has grown out of the schism of the last decade, and the desire of the conservatives to exclude, and have declared un-Anglican, and in fact un-Christian, the inclusion of of gay people on equal or comparable terms to straight ones. The question really does divide the church. Globally, there is a clear majority against it. In this country, there is probably a vague majority of Christians in favour, and certainly no strong sentiment for a purge of gay clergy. So why should the Church of England sign up to a document which can only be either another piece of toothless waffle, or something that one day will turn round and bite it, painfully?
We will link to each of the contributions in separate articles.1 Comment
ACNS reports that Uruguay votes to transfer to another Province.
One week after a proposal to allow dioceses to individually permit women’s ordination to the priesthood was turned down by the Tenth Synod of the Province of the Southern Cone, the Diocese of Uruguay has voted to seek another jurisdiction with which to share its ministry.
The vote in the Province had been by a specific request of the Diocese of Uruguay and sought to allow a diocesan option in the matter, rather than Provincial wide adoption, so that the diocese could proceed to minister within a very difficult agnostic milieu. Uruguay felt that after a nine year hiatus since the last vote for approval, a patient wait would be rewarded. That was not the result and so the Uruguayan Synod took this measure to move away from the Province…
There is a further report from ENS URUGUAY: Diocese votes to leave Southern Cone
…Clergy members of the Southern Cone’s 10th triennial synod Nov. 4 refused to approve the canonical changes required to allow for the ordination of women to the priesthood. The changes, which required a two-thirds majority in all three houses, were approved by the bishops and laity. Uruguay ordains women to the diaconate.
The Diocese of Uruguay synod met Nov. 12 in the capital city of Montevideo and decided by a simple majority vote in orders to quit the province, according to Lyons.
The diocese wants to transfer from the Southern Cone within the year, he said, adding that if permission is not given, an appeal would be made to the Anglican Consultative Council to arrange for oversight, following provincial canons…
© Diarmaid MacCulloch 2010. A shorter version of this article appeared earlier in The Times.
In 1994 a set of new bishops appeared ready-minted to cater for those unhappy with the way that most of the Church of England wanted to shape its future. They were given a newly-contrived title, ‘Provincial Episcopal Visitor’, but friend and foe alike christened them ‘Flying Bishops’, since they fluttered athletically over existing diocesan boundaries to minister to certain Anglican parish churches mostly characterised by incense, statuary and a multitude of candles. What to call these novelties? The need was to make up some titles which would sound impressively historic, and some antiquarian-minded ecclesiastical bureaucrats in Lambeth Palace must have had a high old time doing this. Their finest satirical production was ‘the Bishop of Ebbsfleet’. Historically, it commemorated a place where Augustine of Canterbury might possibly have landed, bringing a Roman form of Christianity to the as-yet-unnamed England, but today, it was a windswept Kentish hamlet in the middle of nowhere, soon to become a windswept railway platform on the High Speed Rail Link to mainland Europe. You couldn’t make it up. But they did.
And now three past and present Flying Bishops (Ebbsfleet included), a quasi-Flying Bishop (Fulham) and a bishop retired from a stridently ‘High’ Australian diocese, are clutching tickets for the Rome Express. Already some journalists are trumpeting this as heralding a mighty flood from the C of E – it’s a good headline, ‘Five Anglican bishops quit for Rome’. Hmmm….. These evanescent bishops were created to service a new and absurd idea: a special jurisdiction for self-selected Anglicans intent on throwing their toys out of the pram. Now the bishops themselves seem to have realised what an absurd idea it was. It is unlikely that many will follow, beyond a coterie of clergy trained in the same High-Church Anglican theological colleges that fostered their viewpoint. This is no great Anglican crisis. It does not even represent the departure of Anglo-Catholics from the Church of England; Anglo-Catholicism prospers regardless of the Flying Bishops. They represent one faction, which those of us who enjoy grubbing in historical byways term ‘Papalist Catholics’. For about 150 years this group among High Church Anglicans have performed athletic intellectual gymnastics about what the Church of England actually is. They ignored the fact that it had a Reformation in the sixteenth century, and turned their churches into meticulous replicas of whatever ecclesiastical fashions the Roman Church decided to adopt, while equally ignoring the fact that successive popes considered their clerical status ‘absolutely null and utterly void’. Now they are thrilled to find that the Pope was wrong all along, so they can after all be received on special terms into the ample bosom of the Western Church of the Latin Rite (which is in the habit of arrogating to itself the more general title of the Catholic Church).
This papal cake both to be eaten and to be had is called an ‘Ordinariate’, a title almost as novel as that 1994 coinage of ‘Provincial Episcopal Visitor’. It certainly came as a shock to the Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales when Pope Benedict XVI announced it out of the blue last autumn, but naturally the Catholic episcopate has put a brave face on the surprise. The Flying Bishops are going to be allowed to exercise their pastoral gifts within a special Anglican paddock, to which apparently they will bring all the riches of Anglicanism’s heritage. It’s not exactly clear what these riches will be: when asked, Roman Catholic bishops usually vaguely refer to Anglican scholarship on the Early Church. Well, call me old-fashioned, but I thought that Roman Catholics already knew quite a bit about the Early Church. Perhaps it’s Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer? Not a book for which the Flying Bishops and their clerical mates have shown much enthusiasm in the past. Maybe married clergy? Well, Rome only likes that if the clergy concerned are ex-Anglicans – very annoying for mainstream Roman Catholic clergy to whom such marital bliss is forbidden.
Notable among those waving goodbye to the Flyers at Ebbsfleet International will be the equal and opposite coterie of extreme Evangelicals, who were in temporary alliance with them over matters conservative, but want nothing to do with Rome, even an ultra-traditionalist Vatican like Benedict’s. And I predict that members of the Ordinariate will not find Rome what they expected. In their Anglican careers, they have flourished in the status of perpetual malcontents: Rome is not disposed to indulge stroppiness, as Anglicans habitually do. When there was a fuss about the priesting of women, some priests and laity went over to Rome, then some came back to Canterbury. Unlike some Churches, the C of E never makes a song and dance about those (including ex-Roman Catholics) who find a happy home in its many mansions. Maybe just worth buying a return ticket, Flyers?
Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church in the University of Oxford.18 Comments
As a follow-up to the recent advertisements in the Church Times and Church of England Newspaper Inclusive Church and Modern Church have mailed a leaflet to all General Synod members.2 Comments
Jonathan Wynne-Jones reports in the Telegraph: Catholic Church to welcome 50 Anglican clergy. “The Catholic Church will announce this week that 50 Anglican clergy are defecting to Rome following the Church of England’s moves to introduce women bishops.”
The Church Mouse has this comment: 50 clergy to join ordinariate – has the CofE been preparing?44 Comments
Nick Baines writes about The real news.
Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian that Despite the conservatives, churchgoers are inspired by Gene Robinson. “Though the gay bishop is retiring early, some day the Anglican church hierarchy will see homophobia as an evil.”
Jeremy Fletcher asks Is the Church of England a Coffee Chain?
William Oddie writes in the Catholic Herald that The Ordinariate will help reconnect the English Church to its medieval roots. “The Catholic Church in England has lost a precious tradition: of ministering to everyone living within the parish boundary.”
This week’s Church Times article by Giles Fraser is A perfect harmony may jar.
And finally, in The Guardian: From the archive, 9 November 1960: An armchair lesson in sermonship.8 Comments
The editors of Thinking Anglicans (Simon S, Peter and Simon K) have recently discussed the question of comments on TA, and we are agreed that we should encourage ‘good commenting’. WIth that in mind, I am republishing a post I made in June 2007 …
We have noticed an increasing tendency by some commenters to make ad hominem or derogatory comments about other people — sometimes about other commenters and perhaps more often about people in the news.
We want discussions here to be conducted in a spirit of Christian charity and we are going to take a strong line on this. We will not approve comments that include ad hominem remarks. Comments on someone else should concentrate on their words or deeds. People should be accorded their proper names and/or titles, not a pretend or derogatory name or sarcastic title preferred by the commenter. Please note that this applies to people on all sides of discussions.
Secondly, we reiterate a plea we made a year ago: ‘please consider seriously using your own name, rather than a pseudonym. While we do not, at this time, intend to make this a requirement, we do wish to strongly encourage the use of real names.’
We hope that if commenters were to respond in this spirit then discussions would be better, the level of debate would be higher, and we would be doing a little more to bring about the kingdom of God.23 Comments
Updated Saturday morning to correct link to Ruth Gledhill video, and Saturday afternoon to add an alternative link.
Nick Assinder in Time: U.K. Bishops Defect to Catholic Church: A Sign of Crisis?
In The Economist: Flying bishops take off
Ruth Gledhill has interviewed David Houlding, chair of the Catholic Group on General Synod and posted the eight-minute interview on YouTube: Schism in Catholic wing of Church of England. She has added this introduction to the video.
Father David Houlding, chair of the Catholic Group on General Synod, tells Ruth Gledhill of The Times why he is staying in the Church of England but opposes women bishops. He also says that the Bishop of Fulham Father John Broadhurst must resign as chair of Forward in Faith.
The video is also available here.9 Comments
In today’s Church Times Ed Beavan writes that Flying bishops move as eleventh hour approaches. The article includes this paragraph about the flying bishop who has not resigned:
The third flying bishop, the Bishop of Beverley, the Rt Revd Martyn Jarrett, has said that he will not be going over to Rome. Speaking on Wednesday, he said that he saw his task as being “to convince the Church of England to make proper provision for people who hold my views”. He said that he desperately wanted to stay, “as do the overwhelming majority of people I care for”.
There is also this leading article: The first departures to the Ordinariate.7 Comments
Updated Friday morning
According to a report by George Conger due to appear in the Church of England Newspaper tomorrow:
The Archbishop of Canterbury has proposed suspending the Primates Meeting—the fourth ‘instrument of unity’ in the Anglican Communion—in favour of holding multiple small group gatherings of like minded archbishops.
In a letter to the primates dated Oct 7, Dr. Rowan Williams suggested that given the “number of difficult conversations” and the threat of a boycott of its meetings, a regime of separate but equal facilitated small groups sessions might better serve the primates’ “diverse” perspectives and forestall the substantial “damage” to the communion a full-fledged boycott would entail.
Dr. Williams also called for a reform of the structure of the meetings, suggesting that an elected standing committee be created and the powers and responsibility of the meeting of the communion’s 38 archbishops, presiding bishops and moderators be delineated…
Read the whole article here.
Episcopal Café has drawn attention here to some corroborative reports:
ACNS reported that at the CAPA Primates meeting on 8 November, Indian Ocean Primate Archbishop Ian Ernest said:
As regards the Primates Meeting hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury due to take place early next year, we shall be able to express ourselves but the decision to attend rests solely on the individual Archbishop.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has invited me in my capacity of CAPA Chairman to be part of a preparatory committee. He is also anxious that a small group of primates meet with him. I would like to have your opinion and thoughts about it….
And back on 26 October, the Canadian Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz was reported by the Anglican Journal as saying:
“There is a lot of tension within the group,” Archbishop Fred Hiltz said last Sunday in his address to the Oct. 22-25 joint meeting of the Anglican House of Bishops and the Lutheran Conference of Bishops in Montreal. Some primates seem “unwilling to come to the table with everyone present,” he said. This suggests that some primates strongly opposed to same-sex marriages would not be willing to attend with primates of more favourable or nuanced views.
Archbishop Hiltz said the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams may try to deal with this problem by arranging prior meetings of smaller groups of like-minded primates.
The Anglican Communion Office has issued this statement via Twitter commenting directly on the original story from the CEN:
@churchnewspaper Am afraid this story is not accurate. Communion Sec. Gen. Canon Kearon adamant: never any plans to cancel Primates’ Mtg.
The Council of Forward in Faith North America has issued this statement.
A Statement from the Council of Forward in Faith North America
November 10, 2010
Regarding the resignations of Bishops Andrew Burnham, Keith Newton, John Broadhurst, Edwin Barnes, and David Silk – it is with thanksgiving that we recognize their faithful witness and service to Forward in Faith and the Anglican Communion in upholding the historic Catholic faith. We assure them of our gratitude and our prayers that God will bless and guide them in their future ministries. We pray that the Holy Spirit will provide discernment and guidance to our Forward in Faith brothers and sisters during this time of transition.
As our beloved brothers in Christ embark on their new chapter of ministry, Forward in Faith North America will remain an Anglican ministry, committed to upholding the historic, catholic faith of the church among its members and its affiliated parishes and jurisdictions.
The Living Church has this piece from John Kingsley Martin: Five Bishops Form Caravan to Rome.
Riazat Butt in her Divine dispatches in The Guardian writes about Quitting Bishops and other things.
David Watkinson writes in the Lancashire Telegraph East Lancs bishops undecided on Catholic church move.6 Comments
To complete a trilogy of pastoral letters, here is one from the Bishop of Ebbsfleet.
The Bishop of Ebbsfleet’s Pastoral Letter – November 2010
Bishop Andrew’s Final Pastoral Letter
FIRST, I must apologise for this letter appearing late: I have delayed writing it until 9th November, the day after I announced my resignation from the See of Ebbsfleet, and the first anniversary of Anglicanorum cœtibus. Today is also the anniversary of Bishop John Richards’ death. When he became Bishop in 1994 many thought that he would be the one and only Bishop of Ebbsfleet. Who would have thought that he would have several successors – two so far? Bishop John was a fine man and I pray that he will rest in peace and share in the glory of the Resurrection.
My resignation takes effect on 31st December but, for bishops who become a Roman Catholic, custom requires that we cease public ministry forthwith. I foresaw how difficult this would be and it was for that reason that I arranged Study Leave, which began a month ago and lasts until the end of the year. I am extremely grateful for the countless messages of goodwill I have received. My farewell service is at 12 noon on 27th November at St John’s, New Hinksey, Oxford. I hope that some of you can be there.
Until the resignation was announced, I was careful not to recommend to anyone, or to any parish, how they should react to Anglicanorum cœtibus, the Holy See’s response to our appeal to Rome for help. Writing recently to laity in Oxford Forward in Faith who had expressed an interest in remaining in the Church of England whatever happens, my office duly sent them details of the Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda. Writing to those interested in the Ordinariate of England and Wales, I promised to hand on their details, with their permission, to the lay organisers. I hope something similarly even-handed happens in every diocese of the Church of England. As I have explained in the last three Pastoral Letters, this is a time for prayerful discernment. The Holy Spirit is at work in the Church, not at our beck and call, but changing and transforming us and our communities. The pioneering Ordinariate groups, when they come into being, will be ‘fresh expressions of church’, mostly new, missionary congregations, seeking to bring people to the fullness of the Catholic Faith and to advance the work of the Kingdom.
It has been hard – and it will continue to be hard – to leave many of you behind. The relationship of a bishop with his people is that of a father and, of all the titles, ‘father’ is the one to cherish. To no longer be the father of the clergy, the people, and the parishes is a real bereavement. I love you and I miss you. Had the Ebbsfleet project succeeded, we would all have become a local church, not unlike an Ordinariate, but within the Church of England, and seeking unity corporately with the Holy See, a fulfilment of the ARCIC discussions these last forty years. That was our vision, and it was not to be. Those who see a future for Ebbsfleet need another bishop with a different vision.
Yet amidst the bereavement is also intense joy. The Ordinariate is not something that can be joined corporately. Like the Walsingham coach, we have to climb on board one by one. In the queue for the coach, and on the coach, the pilgrimage group are all together, with their pastor. A couple of dozen of these coaches will be on the road very soon in Southern England, and I shall be on one of them. Other coaches will join the pilgrimage later: some people are already making bookings. Those joining the pilgrimage – a ramshackle caravan of pilgrims stretching across the wastelands into the distance – are full of joy and hope. Their enthusiasm and faith are contagious. Though I have had chance to visit only four of the groups, lay leaders of other groups have been in touch. So too have the clergy who have been acting as chaplains of the groups, amidst their other responsibilities.
Never far from the back of my mind are the Farewell Discourses of Jesus in St John’s Gospel. After all, to follow Christ, even at our lowly level, means being prepared to walk on ahead, face the dangers and difficulties, and trust that those left behind will be cared for. There is no vainglory here. I am quite sure, faced with the Passion, I would have run away, like the other disciples. I too would have denied even knowing Jesus, and left it to the holy women to be constant and strong. But, looking through the Farewell Discourses, there is not only Jesus going ahead to prepare a place but also the promise of a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit (John 14). Jesus is the True Vine and, cut off from him, we can do nothing but wither and be thrown into the fire and burned (John 15). His new commandment is to love one another. There are two musical settings of these words by sixteenth century composers, Sheppard and Tallis, working in the heat of the reformation battle. They were Catholics but bravely setting texts for the new Reformation Church. ‘By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another’. The work of the Spirit is to guide us into all the truth (John 16:13) and to glorify the Father and the Son. Thus our sorrow will be turned into joy. We learn of the gift of Peace, which, amidst the tribulation of the world is found only in Christ. Finally Jesus prays for the gift of Unity (John 17). It is that gift of Unity, I believe, which is offered to us, and through us eventually to all separated Christians, in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. It is because it is a gift of the Holy Spirit, abiding in his Church, that I believe I must accept it and invite others to come with me on the journey. The Church gathers round, and maintains its unity in communion with, the successor of Peter.
I disown and renounce nothing that I have done in Jesus’ name: God is faithful. But I am now laying aside my bishopric. Self-emptying (kenosis) is hard – harder than any of us can manage in our own strength – but it is basic to being a disciple, as the gospels constantly remind us. Everyone on the journey has to do some laying aside. But we pray, in Cowper’s words, echoing St John of the Cross: ‘The dearest idol I have known, Whate’er that idol be, Help me to tear it from Thy throne, And worship only Thee’.
It is a Parting of Friends. I was mindful of that on the feast of Blessed John Henry Newman, 9th October, when I went off to Littlemore to join in the Newman Mass there. This time we must do everything – better than we managed 150 years ago and 15 years ago – to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). Let us leave aside our squabbles and let God work in our midst.
May God bless and keep you as you faithfully seek to serve him.
+ Andrew12 Comments
The Bishop of Richborough has published this pastoral letter on his website, following the announcement of his resignation.
Pastoral Letter – 9th November 2010
To priests and people in the Richborough Area
PASTORAL LETTER NOVEMBER 2010
I imagine most of you will already know that I have resigned as Bishop of Richborough as from 31st December and will not be conducting any public episcopal services between now and then. I will, in due course, be received into full communion with the Catholic Church and join the Ordinariate when one is erected in England, which I hope will happen early next year. This has been a very difficult decision and has not been taken without much thought and prayer over the last year. For more than 8 years I have enjoyed being Bishop of Richborough; I have particularly valued the many visits to parishes for confirmations and other occasions. I am more grateful than I can say for the warmth, friendship and support I have experienced from so many priests and faithful lay people. I did not deserve it but I thank God for all I have received from you.
I am sure it will be said that I am leaving because of the issue of the ordination of women to the episcopate. While it is true that this has been an important factor in my thinking it is not the most significant factor. The publication of the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, just one year ago, came as a surprise and has completely changed the landscape for Anglo Catholics. Since the inception of the ARCIC process, set up by Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in the 1960s, most of us have longed and prayed for corporate union with the Catholic Church; union which in our own time has seemed less likely because of the new difficulties concerning the ordination of women and other doctrinal and moral issues affecting the Anglican Communion.
Although we must still pray for sacramental and ecclesial unity between our Churches that now seems a much more distant hope. The creation of Personal Ordinariates within the Catholic Church provides an opportunity for visible unity between Anglicans and the Catholic Church now, while still being able to retain what is best in our own tradition which will enrich the Universal Church. This is a hope which has been expressed many times by Forward in Faith and many others within the catholic tradition of the Church of England So I hope you will understand that I am not taking this step in faith for negative reasons about problems in the Church of England but for positive reasons in response to our Lord’s prayer the night before he died the ‘they may all be one.’
Some of you, of course, will be thinking that I am leaving just at the time when episcopal leadership for our parishes is vital. I have great sympathy with this view but there are a number of ways of understanding leadership. Some may think the leader should stay to the bitter end like the captain of a sinking ship, but the example in scripture is that of the shepherd and every instructed Christian knows the eastern shepherd leads from the front rather than following the flock from behind. This is what I hope I am doing. I am leading the way and I hope and pray that many of you will follow me in the months and the years ahead.
However, I know many of you will wish to remain in the Church of England if that is at all possible and for some they will do so whatever provision General Synod eventually adopts. For those I could not continue to be your bishop with any integrity. My pilgrimage is now leading me in a different direction and I can no longer provide the episcopal leadership you need and deserve. You need a new Bishop of Richborough who has the same vision as you have and one for whom a solution in the Church of England is a priority. My priority is union with the Universal Church.
For those whom I have let down and disappointed, I ask your forgiveness. I am only to well ware of my own failings and inadequacies but I have tried, though often failed, to be a loving and faithful bishop for you. I hope you will continue to pray for Gill and me as we take this significant step in our own Christian pilgrimage, as we will continue to pray for all of you.
May God bless you now and always,
Yours in our Blessed Lord,
Bishop of Richborough
Stephen Bates in The Guardian writes about An uneasy welcome for the flying bishops. “Arrivals from the Anglican church may import their factionalism into a Catholic culture they don’t entirely understand.”
The Catholic Group in General Synod has issued this statement today.
Statement from Catholic Group in General Synod
Nov 9, 2010
The Catholic Group in General Synod is sorry to hear of the five bishops’ intention to join the Anglican Ordinariate; we would like to thank them all for their ministry in the Church of England, and to assure them of our prayers and good wishes for their future. Bishops John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and David Silk have all been prominent members of the Catholic Group, and we thank them for their leadership of the Group in the past.
The Catholic Group remains determined to do all it can to ensure that the promises made by the Church of England to traditionalists at the time of the passing of legislation to permit the ordination of women to the priesthood are honoured by the General Synod as it now considers draft legislation to permit the consecration of women as bishops; significant amendment of the current draft will be required to enable this to happen.
We are heartened by the news that new appointments will be made for the Bishops of Ebbsfleet, Fulham and Richborough, and assure the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London of our prayers and good wishes at this time.