Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton will be ordained deacons on January 13 and become priests two days later

Three former Anglican bishops will be ordained to the Catholic priesthood at Westminster Cathedral on January 15.

After being received into the Church on January 1, Andrew Burnham, the former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, John Broadhurst, the former Bishop of Fulham, and Keith Newton, the former Bishop of Richborough, will be ordained deacons on January 13 and become priests on January 15.

Their reception into the Church marked the first concrete steps made towards establishing the first ordinariate in the world. Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton will be the first former Anglican bishops taking up Pope Benedict XVI’s provision for Anglicans wishing to be in full communion with Rome to be ordained as Catholic priests. They are likely to be ordained and incardinated into the ordinariate, which would mean such a structure will have to be erected before January 13. Speculation suggests the decree of erection will be published on January 11.

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In November 2009, Pope Benedict published the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, which established a new legal structure for Anglicans who wished to keep their Anglican identity but wanted to come into communion with Rome. The structure, known as a personal ordinariate, most resembles a
military diocese.

Commentators have described the establishment of an ordinariate in Britain as one of the most important developments for British Catholicism since the Oxford Movement.

Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton, will be the first members of an ordinariate in England and Wales and are expected to be followed in the first wave by 500 to 800 people. There are at least 24 existing ordinariate groups with 20 to 30 members.

Today the Church issued an official statement regarding the former Anglican bishops. The statement said: “On 8 November 2010, five Bishops of the Church of England (3 in active ministry, 2 in retirement) announced their intention to cease from public episcopal ministry and to resign from their pastoral responsibilities in the Church of England with effect from 31st December 2010.

“Following this decision, John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton (the three former Bishops who had been in active ministry) were received together with some members of their families into full communion with the Catholic Church during Mass on 1 January 2011, in Westminster Cathedral. In addition three former Anglican Religious Sisters were also received. Out of respect for the privacy of the individuals concerned and their families, no prior public announcement of the receptions was given by the Episcopal Commission responsible for organisation of the receptions.

“With the permission of the Holy See, John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton will be Ordained as Catholic Deacons in Allen Hall Seminary Chapel on Thursday 13 January 2011 at 5.30 pm. Their Ordination as Catholic Priests will take place at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 15 January 2011 at 10.30am.

“The two retired former Bishops will be received into full communion with the Catholic Church and proceed to Ordination as Catholic Priests in due course.”

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