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Remaining Catholic in the Church of England

11 November 2009


From Canon Simon Killwick
Sir, — May I, through your columns, put a different perspective on reports that the Pope has “parked his tanks on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s lawn” (as The Times put it), and that there will be a great exodus of Catholic Anglicans from the Church of England.

I and many others, far from looking to leave the Church of England, are actually looking to stay. Nor are the tanks parked on the Archbishop’s lawn: Dr Williams, supported by the Archbishop of York, has consistently argued that there should be proper provision for traditionalists within the Church of England, in the event of there being women bishops (a move that both Archbishops support). Many Cath­olic Anglicans are looking to the General Synod to deliver provision within the Church of England.

This is our Church, as much as it is anyone else’s. We witness to the faith and order of the undivided Church, the Church of the first millennium. We witness to the Church of England’s roots, in the Western Roman Church, and in the undivided Church. We witness to wider Catholic unity, which must include both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Our living witness enriches the Church of England, contributing to its comprehensiveness, keeping it in touch with its roots, and holding the vision of wider Catholic unity before it. As long as the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches hold to the traditional male priesthood and episcopate, our witness is a vital part of the Church of England, which is both Catholic and reformed.

The Catholic Group in General Synod remains wholly committed to working with the current legislative process of the Synod in order to secure proper provision for our witness to continue within the Church of England. We firmly believe that this would bring positive benefits, both to ourselves and to the Church of England as a whole.
Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod
Christ Church Rectory
Monton Street
Manchester M14 4GP

From Canon Andrew Norman
Sir, — Bishop Ian Ramsey used to refer to “disclosure situations” as moments when we suddenly see the things of God more truly. It was when I read my letter in the Church Times (6 November), suggesting that the greater imperative of “unity with the wider Catholic Church actually should come before the full inclusion of women in ordained ministry”, as if a lesser imperative, that for me the penny dropped a bit more.

I saw that authentic Catholic unity can only come in and through the progressive evolution of Catholic tradition, i.e. not unity with the Roman Catholic Church “before” women bishops in the Church of England, but a healthily united Church one day through their ministry.

In my own Anglo-Catholic parish we hold together a range of views, slowly being able to learn from each other. Let’s dream of a reunited, reintegrated Catholic-renewal movement in the Church of England, which together recovers impetus for full Catholic reconciliation within the whole Church of God.

My earlier reaction came from an inner area of vulnerability and deep loyalties (still far from wholly examined). If you will be so kind as to print this further letter it would be good to acknowledge how it is for many of us. Perhaps the greatest imperative is simply to accept that for all of us, indeed for the whole Catholic Church, this is a continuing journey, with moments of disclosure. Along that way, we need to be unfailingly kind and patient with each other.
The Rectory, 3 Flower Walk
Guildford, Surrey GU2 4EP

[We ask correspondents not to test our own patience with further disclosure situations that may occur on seeing their letters in print. Editor]

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