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Two Anglican bishops ready to cross the Tiber

Abigail Frymann

TWO ANGLICANbishops have declared they will leave the Church of England to join the personal ordinariate to be established within the Catholic Church. The bishops, who are opposed to Church of England proposals to ordain women bishops, will effectively become Roman Catholic, though they will be able to retain elements of their Anglican heritage. Bishop Edwin Barnes, the retired Bishop of Richborough, told The Tablet he would join the ordinariate “because the Anglican Church is no longer the one holy and apostolic Church it says it is”. The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Andrew Burnham,

said Pope Benedict XVI had made the offer “and I’ve decided to respond to it”. Two other bishops are understood to be preparing to resign. The current Bishop of Richborough, Keith Newton, said a timetable still had to be worked out for his move to the ordinariate, while Bishop John Broadhurst of Fulham will make an announcement in the next three weeks.

All four bishops are married but under the norms of the apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, would be eligible to be appointed ordinary of the ordinariate. In such a case, a former Anglican bishop would first have to be ordained a priest in the Catholic Church. More formal announcements of resigna- tions are expected at a meeting of the

traditionalist Forward in Faith group on 17 October.

At the end of 2009, the Pope announced the establishment of an ordinariate to accom- modate disaffected Anglicans. It will come into being as soon as an official application is made to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by a prospective member. Such applications would then be communi- cated to bishops in this country, who would prepare a timetable. There would then be a period for preparation and catechetical train- ing, followed by the ordination of formerly Anglican clergy into the Catholic Church. The bishops see themselves as trailblazers prepared to go over to Rome to safeguard orthodoxy, following the decision in July by the Church of England’s General Synod to allow women to become bishops. Possible dates for their reception into the Catholic Church and their subsequent ordin - ation, or the regularising of their orders, are Ash Wednesday and Pentecost next year. Groups of Anglican parishioners are understood to be preparing to join the ordi- nariate. In a press release issued on Friday, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet wrote that ordinariate groups were likely be small congregations of about 30. He also said that traditionalist clergy would be unlikely to take all their parishioners with them into the ordinariate. “There are many clergy and laity who would love to possess the courage for this pioneering venture but they simply do not. Not everyone is at heart a risk-

Top left, Andrew Burnham is to leave the Church of England. Above, Keith Newton, and left, John Broadhurst, are preparing to go

all pioneer. Not everyone can be,” he wrote. Several hundred traditionalist clergy gath- ered at a “Sacred Synod” in London last week to discuss the matter. It was announced that a new body, the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, was being formed for clergy who oppose women bishops but wish to remain in the Church of England for now. The society wants pastoral oversight from male bishops who do not condone women’s ordination. It also hopes to be able to ordain new bishops, though this would require royal assent to become legal. Some clergy at the Sacred Synod were doubtful that the new society could succeed in shunning women bishops.

“It’s a bit of a fudge,” said one priest. “The people going over to the ordinariate are saying the society is not really kosher. People from the liberal end are saying it’s just a waiting room for the ordinariate or another club for the bigots.”

Others questioned the society’s purpose alongside the long-standing Forward in Faith coalition of traditionalist Anglican clergy.

ARCHBISHOPVincent Nichols has suggested that Catholics should more readily offer to pray for people, say “God bless you” and make the Sign of the Cross more frequently, write Isabel de Bertodano and Sam Adams. His ideas are contained in a pastoral letter in which he encourages congregations to demonstrate greater confidence in their faith following Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain last month. In his letter, the Archbishop of Westminster gives thanks for the papal visit, saying it has invigorated the Church. “Making faith visible is so much a part of

the invitation the Holy Father has extended to us all,” he wrote in the letter, which was distributed to parishes across the Archdiocese of Westminster last weekend.

Cathedrals and churches benefit from Benedict ‘bounce’ Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Liverpool,

Patrick Kelly, held a Mass of Thanksgiving for the papal visit this week. Archbishop Kelly told The Tablet that Catholics in Liverpool had travelled to Birmingham in large numbers to see the Pope. “Catholics from every walk of life have been absolutely positive in their response to the visit,” said the archbishop. Cathedrals across the country have been boosted by the Pope’s tour of England and Scotland. Canon Christopher Tuckwell, administrator of Westminster Cathedral, said he had noticed an increase in attendances at Mass since the papal visit. “The Pope visited the cathedral on the Saturday and on Sunday we were full for every Mass,” he said. “We had similar numbers the

following weekend.” The Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard

Longley, said a thanksgiving Mass in Coventry last weekend and another is planned for St Chad’s in Birmingham in the coming weeks. Fr Gerry Breen, dean at St Chad’s, said he had noticed a surge in numbers at Mass. “There have been a lot of people enquiring and many lapsed Catholics have been coming back,” he said. In London, Canon James Cronin, dean of

St George’s Cathedral Southwark, said the papal visit had invigorated the congregation. “People are much more cheery,” he said. A service of thanksgiving will be celebrated

at Westminster Cathedral on 9 October. (See James Leachman, page 4.)

2 October 2010 | THE TABLET | 39

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