Five bishops are to join the Roman Catholic Church under a Vatican scheme for disaffected Anglicans.
Three serving bishops and two retired bishops have decided to enter into "full communion" with the Catholic Church through the personal ordinariate, the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales said. The scheme, announced last year by the Vatican, allows Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church while maintaining aspects of their spiritual heritage.
The bishops are the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough and the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Roman Catholic Church said. They will be joined by the Rt Rev Edwin Barnes, former bishop of Richborough, and the Rt Rev David Silk, former Bishop of Ballarat in Australia...
...Bishop Alan Hopes, Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop in the Westminster Diocese, said: "We welcome the decision of bishops Andrew Burnham, Keith Newton, John Broadhurst, Edwin Barnes and David Silk to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church through the ordinariate for England and Wales, which will be established under the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. At our plenary meeting next week, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales will be exploring the establishment of the ordinariate and the warm welcome we will be extending to those who seek to be part of it. Further information will be made known after the meeting."
The decision by the five bishops comes after the General Synod of the Church of England decided to press ahead this summer with the ordination of women bishops without safeguards demanded by traditionalists. This was in spite of threats of a walkout by Anglo-Catholic and conservative evangelical groupings within the Church of England over the issue. The Rt Rev Burnham and the Rt Rev Newton are both so-called "flying bishops" who minister to Church of England parishes where congregations have voted not to allow a woman priest to preside at services. The Rt Rev Broadhurst, who is chairman of the Anglo Catholic grouping Forward in Faith, has already announced his intention of converting to Roman Catholicism. It also emerged last month that the parochial church council of St Peter's Church of England parish in Folkestone had voted to join the ordinariate.
In his Daily Telegraph blog, Damian Thompson reprinted the bishops' statement:
Like many in the catholic tradition of Anglicanism, we have followed the dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics, the ARCIC process, with prayer and longing. We have been dismayed, over the last thirty years, to see Anglicans and Catholics move further apart on some of the issues of the day, and particularly we have been distressed by developments in Faith and Order in Anglicanism which we believe to be incompatible with the historic vocation of Anglicanism and the tradition of the Church for nearly two thousand years.
The Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum cœtibus, given in Rome on 4th November 2009, was a response to Anglicans seeking unity with the Holy See. With the Ordinariates, canonical structures are being established through which we will bring our own experience of Christian discipleship into full communion with the Catholic Church throughout the world and throughout the ages. This is both a generous response to various approaches to the Holy See for help and a bold, new ecumenical instrument in the search for the unity of Christians, the unity for which Christ himself prayed before his Passion and Death. It is a unity, we believe, which is possible only in eucharistic communion with the successor of St Peter.
As bishops, we have even-handedly cared for those who have shared our understanding and those who have taken a different view. We have now reached the point, however, where we must formally declare our position and invite others who share it to join us on our journey. We shall be ceasing, therefore, from public episcopal ministry forthwith, resigning from our pastoral responsibilities in the Church of England with effect from 31st December 2010, and seeking to join an Ordinariate once one is created.
We remain very grateful for all that the Church of England has meant for us and given to us all these years and we hope to maintain close and warm relationships, praying and working together for the coming of God’s Kingdom.
We are deeply appreciative of the support we have received at this difficult time from a whole variety of people: archbishops and bishops, clergy and laity, Anglican and Catholics, those who agree with our views and those who passionately disagree, those who have encouraged us in this step and those who have urged us not to take this step.
The Right Revd Andrew Burnham
The Right Revd Keith Newton
The Right Revd John Broadhurst
The Right Revd Edwin Barnes
The Right Revd David Silk