The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Anglican “earthquake”: bishop set to convert

posted by jmcgee

bishop-of-fulham_1007597c.jpg
And more may be joining him in the months ahead. Details from Damien Thompson:

Bishop John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham in the Anglican diocese of London, is to resign his post later this year to join the Pope’s Ordinariate. The Catholic Herald’s Anna Arco broke the story, also revealing that Bishop Broadhurst will stay as chairman of Forward in Faith, which he says is “not a Church of England organisation”. It sounds as if traditional Anglo-Catholicism is undergoing a major shift (or crisis) of allegiance, because FiF, though not representative of everyone in that constituency, was the main body for Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England opposed to women bishops and priests. Now it seems to be heading towards Roman Catholicism.

Bishop Broadhurst made his announcement at Forward in Faith’s national assembly in London today. I’m told that the mood was very sympathetic towards the Ordinariate scheme. Update: Since writing this post, I’ve listened to a clear and elegant speech on the FiF website by Fr James Patrick (in secular life, His Honour Judge James Patrick) explaining that the Ordinariate is “at the heart of the Pope’s mission” and encouraging those who are committed to joining the structure to form part of the “first wave”. Fr Patrick refers to a “Lenten journey”. Do I detect a hint that there could be mass receptions into the Catholic Church at Easter?

If the chairman of Forward in Faith, together with the flying bishops of Ebbsfleet and Richborough, are joining the Roman Ordinariate, then you can see why members who want to stay in the C of E suddenly needed a new body – the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, aka “Hinge & Bracket”, founded this month by “catholic” bishops in the General Synod. For true opponents of women priests this is a desperate last option, because H&B can’t offer any meaningful safeguards from women’s ministry. For those many Anglo-Catholics who are prepared to soften their stance, however, it’s a quiet route back into the mainstream of the established Church.

So many things are happening at once that it’s difficult to write authoritatively; the picture will be clearer in a few days.

Continue at the link for some observations — and why the ordinariate appears to be picking up steam.

Also: the AP has more, including news that a small parish in England is set to swim the Tiber:

The parochial church council of St. Peter’s said it had resolved to join the ordinariate and “is anxious that this should be made as easy as possible.”

St. Peter’s is in the diocese of Canterbury, the base for the Church of England’s leader, Archbishop Rowan Williams. The Daily Telegraph reported that St. Peter’s attracts about 40 worshippers each Sunday.



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kenneth

posted October 17, 2010 at 11:10 am


It seems to me that all of these waves of Anglican conversions are really just motivated by a single culture war issue and not any inherent desire to be Catholic nor any understanding of what it really means. I seem to recall that conversion is a rather involved process for regular people walking in off the streets – RCIA classes, some months of work. Apparently if your in a position where your conversion makes a useful political statement for Rome, you can get a pass on all of that.



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pagansister

posted October 17, 2010 at 11:44 am


Whatever floats their boats. If unhappy in one church try another. There are plenty to choose from. Or stop going altogether.



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RomCath

posted October 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm


I doubt that this Bishop would need RCIA classes as he probably knows more about Catholicism than most Catholics. I don’t think Blessed John Newman went through RCIA either.



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Tim

posted October 17, 2010 at 12:47 pm


Technically, RCIA is for the unbaptized. Some parishes/dioceses double up and use the same classes to prepare baptized converts for reception into full communion, but that’s not RCIA in the strict sense, nor is it at all a requirement for entering full communion. Although I’m sure some preparation will be necessary for this bishop to enter full communion with the Catholic Church, it doesn’t seem like sitting in on RCIA would really be useful for him–not because he’s politically important, but because he’s already got a solid formation in the faith.



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kenneth

posted October 17, 2010 at 1:05 pm


I just don’t get the sense that these guys are joining Catholicism out of any heartfelt conversion or theological reasoning. So far as I know, there was no indication that they truly believed in the authority of Rome or that Catholicism possessed a fuller version of truth. They just didn’t want to deal with female ministers and needed a new corporate sponsor who ran franchises like that. They probably would have jumped ship to Greek Orthodox or Judaism if those were the only deals on the table.



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Liz

posted October 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm


I say, let’s take them (Anglicans)in any way, shape or form…once they are in the doors potential seeds may be planted. That is, let them experience the eucharist, see the faith of fellow Catholics, hear some excellent homilies, etc. Then, let the conversions begin! (now let’s pray for our fellow Catholics and priests to live up to what we are all called to be-authentic followers of Christ; on fire for the Word!.)



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Ellie

posted October 17, 2010 at 3:21 pm


Indeed, Kenneth. I too wonder why are they converting now. The Catholic Church was always there and they could have converted at any time. Why are they converting now?
Well, you Catholics are welcome to them, and good luck to you.
For those of us who are contented Anglicans, their leaving is a kind of cleansing. No church needs members who are as unhappy as this poor bishop is.
I do understand people’s aversion to women priests and bishops. My grandparents felt the same way about ‘coloured’ clergy, pointing out in their diaries that Jesus wasn’t black.



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RomCath

posted October 17, 2010 at 3:54 pm


“The Catholic Church was always there and they could have converted at any time. Why are they converting now?”
Perhaps because the Catholic Church doesn’t change its teachings every couple of years to suit the crowds and some people are tired of it? Just a thought.



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Steve

posted October 17, 2010 at 6:39 pm


Have to agree with the gist of what Kenneth said, and I’ll take it one step further. These Anglican clergy are converting, for the most part, because they simply do not want to deal with women as equals (priests) or in positions of power (bishops). That’s among the very worst reasons for anyone coming over. The only thing I can imagine that might be worse would be if we welcomed people who were trying to escape racial diversity — something akin to the white flight to the suburbs. (Fortunately, the Catholic church has a pretty good track record on being progressive in race relations for the last hundred years or so. Not the case, unfortunately, when it comes to women in ordained ministry.)



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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted October 17, 2010 at 7:08 pm


A couple of comments equated race issues with sex issues here. However, they are two separate situations and issues. Color is only skin deep. Being a man or woman (father or mother) is far deeper in both biology and spirituality because in their genuine differentiation they are a needed complementary to each other.
But it is easy to understand that in a society that increasingly accepts the sheer lunacy and fantasy of something called gay “marriage” that confusion reigns in our increasingly bizarre culture.



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kenneth

posted October 17, 2010 at 7:22 pm


It appears they’re only “converting” in the most superficial sense of the term. I may be wrong about this, but I seem to remember reading that they and others making this move are still going to be holding services which are substantially Anglican in liturgy/style etc. It’s basically just picking and choosing doctrines that suit one’s ideological tastes. Conservatives are as capable of cafeteria Catholicism as are liberals.



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Eka

posted October 17, 2010 at 7:26 pm


There may be a minority who are leaving only because they “just didn’t want to deal with female ministers and needed a new corporate sponsor who ran franchises like that” which would be unfortunate…
But more likely, as in the case of Newman (who left LONG before female ordination) they are going to Rome because after a very log and painful journey, they believe that the Anglican Church is moving towards a relativistic view of scripture and because they have a desire to belong to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
But I can see that reducing these congregations earnest desire for unity – to misogyny – makes some people feel better about it.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted October 17, 2010 at 7:39 pm


There’s an excellent overview of the situation with the Anglicans right here. It makes clear there are other issues besides simply the ordination of women — notably, the blessing of same-sex marriages and the ordination of openly gay clergy. Read the article. It’s quite insightful and informative. Dcn. G.



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kenneth

posted October 17, 2010 at 9:16 pm


A couple of comments equated race issues with sex issues here. However, they are two separate situations and issues. Color is only skin deep. Being a man or woman (father or mother) is far deeper in both biology and spirituality because in their genuine differentiation they are a needed complementary to each other.
But it is easy to understand that in a society that increasingly accepts the sheer lunacy and fantasy of something called gay “marriage” that confusion reigns in our increasingly bizarre culture.”
There’s not as much daylight between those issues as you’d like to believe. Segregationists didn’t believe their “ism” was about skin deep issues either. The mainstream of white, Christian America believed, until quite recently, that segregation and prohibitions against interracial marriage had to be maintained because of fundamental biological and spiritual reasons. Blacks and whites marrying was considered to be against natural law and thus a sham of a marriage. You can still find more than a few who hew to that these days, if you know how to look.
The Catholic Church did not buy into that as an institution, but many many individual members and even well placed leaders did. All oppressors believe they’re doing it for good and noble reasons.



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wineinthewater

posted October 18, 2010 at 2:34 pm


Kenneth,
Your question is a good one. The Catholic Church *was* always there, so why are they making the move now? If the Catholic Church isn’t the variable that has changed, then something else must have. And when we look at the Anglican Communion, then it becomes pretty obvious. The Anglican Communion has been on a pretty steady theological path. Many have applauded that path, many have decried it.
For some people, that theological path has become more and more incompatible with their own. They stayed and stayed, but things got more and more out of junction. With the offer that the Pope has made, they have come to a crisis. That crisis has forced many people to examine the Catholic Church from a different perspective .. and come to a different conclusion.
I am sure that some people are motivated by base reasons such as sexism or homophobia or political tribalism. But it is uncharitable to paint them all with that brush. I know many people getting ready to swim the Tiber. For nearly all of them, it has come down to the faith. It was not just women’s ordination or homosexual marriage/ordination, it was the fundamental mutability of fundamentals of the faith that those moves were built on to which they objected. The Anglican Communion left less and less room for them, and their objections to Rome shrunk as their objections to Canterbury increased.



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Benjamin Finklestine

posted October 22, 2010 at 9:55 pm


@kenneth
Except for how they maintained the original beliefs and liberals chose to abandon some…



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Right Reverend David Francis

posted November 4, 2010 at 2:46 am


I do not have a url yet but am working on it.



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