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Five Anglo-Catholic bishops resign

By on Monday, 8 November 2010

Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, right, pictured with the late Rev Raymond Bristow and Rector Neil Hibbins in 2007 (Photo: PA)

Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, right, pictured with the late Rev Raymond Bristow and Rector Neil Hibbins in 2007 (Photo: PA)

Five traditionalist Anglican bishops have officially resigned this morning with the intention of taking up an English Ordinariate when it is set up.

This morning, the Rt Rev Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury accepted the resignation of three flying Church of England and two retired assistant bishops in what is a major development in the move towards establishing an Ordinariate in Britain.

The Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough and Rt Rev John Broadhurst Bishop of Fulham as well as the Rt Rev Edwin Barnes the emeritus Bishop of Richborough and the Rt Rev David Silk, an emeritus assistant bishop of Exeter released a statement announcing their resignations.

They said: “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.”

Bishop Newton has been tipped to be the Ordinary of an English Ordinariate when one is established.

Dr Williams said: “I have today with regret accepted the resignations of Bishops Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton who have decided that their future in Christian ministry lies in the new structures proposed by the Vatican. We wish them well in this next stage of their service to the Church and I am grateful to them for their faithful and devoted pastoral labours in the Church of England over many years.”

The Catholic liason officer for the Ordinariate, Bishop Alan Hopes, an auxiliary of Westminster 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.”

The Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi said, “Regarding the declaration of five bishops until now belonging to the Anglican Communion who have decided to join the Catholic Church and who therefore are obliged by conscience to resign from their current pastoral duties in the Church of England, we can confirm that the constitution of a first ordinariate is under study, according to the norms established by the Apostolic Constitution ‘Anglicanorum coetibus,’ and that any further decisions regarding this will be communicated at the proper moment.”

The bishops are due to discuss the Ordinariate at their plenary meeting next week.

Full statement of the resigning Church of England Bishops:

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

Bishop Alan Hopes’ full statement:

“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.”

  • http://twitter.com/UKYoungCatholic UK Young Catholic

    Laus Deo!

  • Mark H.

    Thanks be to God. I hope these men will inspire many more Anglicans to come home to the true faith.

  • James Crawford

    The bishops in question seem not to have the courage of their convictions. Having concluded that the Catholic Church is the one true Church they have accepted, in line with Church teaching, that their own orders are invalid as are Anglican sacraments. Why then are they not immediately becoming Catholics instead of waiting to join the Church when they can do so on their own terms and in the meantime continuing to go through the motions of celebrating invalid sacraments. There seems to be an element of wishing to cross the Tiber without getting one's feet wet here.

  • Stephen

    The Holy Father has built a bridge, in the form of Anglicanorum Coetibus. It seems that these five pastors are going to cross it. Rather than questioning the route that they are taking, I think we should be praising God that they are coming home, and probably bringing many others with them.

    Laus Deo, indeed.

  • Cephas

    I suggest that you read and understand the apostolic constitution in full my friend before you make such comments?

  • john_of_hayling

    Hello James Crawford… You are obviously better qualified than the Holy Father to discern the way ahead! Are you sure that you are on the right web-site?

  • PhilipH

    A big welcome to these converts from me.

  • MJCarroll

    It is a brave move for these Bishops and any anglican clergy who come over to the Ordinariate. We also have to remember that although there will not be a mass exodus (yet??) in the UK, there will be many more 'crossing the Tiber' in the United States and hence there is a real need for the Ordinariate on a global level.

  • MJCarroll

    I sincerely hope that our Bishops 'pull there finger out' so to speak and actually give these Anglicans 100%+ support. Speaking as a Catholic I believe that these Anglican clergy are incredibly brave and deserve to be treated with respect by the Catholic Church and in particular our Bishops.

  • Iain Benson

    Some years ago I had breakfast with John Stott (then a leading Anglican evangelical) in Vancouver and he dismissed ARCIC in terms so shallow and unreflective (something about it being, simply, “a plot to increase the hegemony of Rome”) that I was, as a then Anglican, shocked. In this continuing train wreck of “ecumenism” nothing now surprises me…….and Belloc's statements about Anglicanism not surviving into next week (or words to that effect) written well over half a century ago, look very wrong in terms of the time-scale…..

  • jose de maria

    Como Catolico mexicano con gran amor le doy las gracias a nuestro Señor y la mas amorosa bienvenida a estos cinco Obispos

  • Robert Tickle

    They already accept the true faith in full. they are bringing it with them. It is just that they believe it is not possible to practise the true faith where they are. Many Anglo-Catholic stayed as they wished to convert the C of E – and England- to that faith. such anglo-Catholics always worked to bring the C. of E. to Rome. Their emphases within Anglicanism chimes well with the resourcement theology of Pope. Benedict, aidan nichols, Balthazar and harks back to Newman.

  • aisake040188camaibau

    The vatican had made a good porogress in trying to get the two faith together. Now the fathful Aglican have a better view on many mystery and gift the catholic church has.

  • Fr Francis Marsden

    Wonderful news. It has taken courage and much thought and prayer for these five bishops to come to this decision. I hope that all Catholics will welcome them warmly and charitably, and with much understanding and patience. May they find the safe haven for which all our souls long, coming into port after a long voyage out on the stormy and riven doctrinal seas of Anglicanism.

    As Catholics we should be doubly grateful. The Catholic church in England badly needs an injection of new blood – new clergy, in fact, in very many dioceses. But we will also benefit from the liturgical expertise and goodness of the Anglo-Catholics, following in the tradition of great Anglicans like CSLewis, Eric Mascall and so on.. Hopefully a good number of priests and parishes will follow the five bishops.

    Here in the north-west, we will surely have plenty of empty churches to offer for their use, and plenty of liturgy slots in depleted Mass timetables, a consequence of the diminishing number of our own priests.

  • Progressive Catholic

    These Anglican bishops are ecclesiastical odd-balls, they have served only those parishes which share their views and have used Roman-rite liturgy for decades. They are conservative in their theology and ecclesiology and will set back any attempts at progressive reform in the Roman Communion for decades.

  • CPKS

    Laus Deo! It's a time to celebrate God's “progress”, not a tired 1960s man-made substitute.

  • PeterinSydney

    How come a Catholic Bishop could possibly be married? Won't this also cause consternation in the Orthodox Traditions?

  • Sara

    I myself am converting to the Catholic faith. I've always known that it is where I truly belong. I was never taken to church by my parents, but found it myself in my early teens, and attended what was then known as C of E 'High Church', which was very close to Catholic traditions. I later attended the local Catholic Church, and took instruction for several months, but missed being received into the church due to the Priest taking ill and then my subsequent move from the area. Now I have come back to try once more, and this time I hope all will succeed and I will come home for good.

    My own parish Priest was an Anglican Vicar before he moved into the Catholic faith, and it warms my heart to know that he, along with the five Bishops mentioned above, are on a similar journey to my own.

    May God be with us all.

  • SandyW

    If married they cannot be bishops with sacramental powers in the Catholic Church. They can however be reordained as priests and could be given legal jurisdiction as Ordinaries. As such they would depend on having other “authentic” Catholic bishops confer ordination on any of their flock who are to become priests. In time, no doubt, there will be some Ordinariate priests who (subject to celibacy) can be properly consecrated as bishops. All this would be entirely in keeping with the practice of the Orthodox.

  • Evan

    I congratulate these bishops but I fear that there are quite a few Catholic clergy who will not be especially welcoming. Without the authority of the Pope, Catholicism would be splintered much like Anglicanism.

  • RJ

    Welcome, Sara. Will pray for you.

  • Rose Reynolds

    I am so pleased to welcome these five bishops into the catholic faith. My thoughts and prayers are with them at this diffucult time for them. Best wishes and prayers Rose

  • Asd

    The fall of England goes on…

  • W Oddie

    An ordinary doesn't have to be a bishop. The first ordinary of the English and Welsh ordinariate will be a priest.

  • john_of_hayling

    Hello Progressive Catholic (or PC for short)……. you have a limited understanding of the matter (in my opinion) – one of the bishops addressed one of your points when he spoke about liturgy. As a bishop he doesn't dictate the form of service when he goes to a parish, and his comment was that in the last three years or so he has celebrated more times using the Book of Common Prayer than the Roman Missal. He classes himself as a traditionalist.
    It is also the case that he (and the others) are not quitting because of the possibility of female bishops – that is not the cause – it is a symptom of the problems in the CofE. There is no central authority and as one of the bishops commented going to a CofE service is like going into a Costa coffee house and getting something different every time even though you asked for the same thing. People have been led to think that almost anything goes – is that progressive, PC, or liberal? I think that the Holy Father would not agree with your take on catholicism – ever thought of joining the Cof E?

  • Jhammer

    unitas et veritas glow with hope; but also some more caritas is required; not only for the Anglicans arriving, but also for those choosing not to come home. We must work harder now to re-establish relations with Anglicans whose views are less like ours. After all, there will be less 'Catholic' Anglicans now in their communion.

  • Philomena Carolan

    What a cop out, the Vatican has Anglican clergy, old ones but, the young Catholic have to remain celibate, Okay!!!!!!!!!!!

    It makes a lot of sense…..not.

  • William

    I wonder why Bishops Ridley, Latimer and Cranmer, the latter being responsible for the Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church, who were all martyred feel that these Bishops have deserted the Church over the ordination of Women Bishops. The errors of the Church of Rome that were the reason for the Reformation still exist in that Church and one wonders if the five leaving were ever Protestant ? I shed no tears over their departure as they go into communion with a church based on idolatory and superstition.

  • Lucywillmore

    As a liberal Catholic who has worked with CofE women priests I do not welcome the defectors in to the RC church. Their behaviour has caused division and serious hurt to women priest and to many in the CofE congregation. Can we really accept a group of men who have behaved in this way – when they cannot get their own way they offto join another ‘team’. They should have worked this thru and respected the ABC, noy caused him grief and harm. Shameful and un-christian behaviour!