Flying bishops move as eleventh hour approaches

by
11 November 2010

by Ed Beavan

AFTER months of speculation over their future, two Provincial Episcopal Visitors (PEVs) — the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Revd Andrew Burnham, and the Bishop of Rich­borough, the Rt Revd Keith Newton — announced this week that they are resigning to take up the Pope’s offer of joining the Ordinariate.

They will be accompanied by the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Revd John Broadhurst, who had announced his intention to enter the Ordinariate at Forward in Faith’s National As­sembly last month (News, 22 Oc­tober); and two retired bishops, the Rt Revd Edwin Barnes, a former Bishop of Richborough, and the Rt Revd David Silk, a former Bishop of Ballarat in Australia, now an hon­orary assistant bishop in the diocese of Exeter.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that it was “with regret” that he had accepted the two PEVs’, or flying bishops’, resignations. He wished them well in their next stage of ministry, and thanked them for their service in the Church of England. He confirmed that he would “set in train the process for filling the vacant sees” of both flying bishops.

The Catholic Group in General Synod said that it was heartened by the news that the sees would be filled.

The five bishops issued a statement this week, saying that they had be­come “distressed by developments in Faith and Order in Anglicanism which we believe to be incompatible with the historic vocation of An­gli-can­ism and the tradition of the Church for nearly two thousand years”.

They said that they had “now reached a point . . . where we must formally declare our position and invite others who share it to join us on our journey”.

They will stop their public episcopal ministry immediately, and plan to resign from their pastoral responsibilities in the Church of England with effect from 31 December, joining the Ordinariate when it is created.

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Bishop Newton writes in a pastoral letter that joining the Ordinariate was “a very difficult decision”, and asks for forgiveness from those who feel “let down and disappointed”. He says that he “could not continue to be your bishop with any integrity. My pil­grimage is now leading me in a different direction and I can no longer provide the episcopal leader­ship you need and deserve.”

Speaking on Tuesday, Bishop Broadhurst said that he “did not have a clue” how many individuals or churches would follow the bishops over to Rome.

He denied reports that said he planned to take Forward in Faith, which he chairs, with him into the Ordinariate. “I’m seeking to secure an ecclesial future for orthodox An­glicans, and the Ordinariate can be part of that, but Forward in Faith is not committed to the Ordinariate as an organisation, and to say that is untrue.”

Lambeth Palace announced that three bishops — the Bishop of Horsham, the Rt Revd Mark Sowerby; the Bishop of Plymouth, the Rt Revd John Ford; and the administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, the Rt Revd Lindsay Urwin — will provide pastoral care for those who came under the care of Bishops Burnham and Newton.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, confirmed that he would be appointing a successor to Bishop Broadhurst in the suffragan see of Fulham, and that the Bishop of Edmonton, the Rt Revd Peter Wheatley, would take over pastoral care for parishes that came under the Bishop of Fulham.

The third flying bishop, the Bishop of Beverley, the Rt Revd Martyn Jarrett, has said that he will not be going over to Rome. Speaking on Wednes­day, he said that he saw his task as being “to convince the Church of England to make proper provision for people who hold my views”. He said that he desperately wanted to stay, “as do the over­whelming majority of people I care for”.

The Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod questioned the need to replace the PEVs. The group says it believes that the recent legislation on women bishops debated by the General Synod makes sufficient provisions for those who are opposed to women in the episcopate. In the interim, “the small number of par­ishes opposed to women’s ordination and episcopacy could be covered by existing bishops,” it suggests.

The Rt Revd Alan Hopes, the Roman Catholic bishop who is on the Episcopal Commission implement­ing Anglicanorum Coetibus, wel­comed the five bishops, and said that next week the Catholic Bishops’ Conference would be exploring the establishment of the Ordinariate.

US meeting. American Christians who are considering joining the Ordinariate will gather in San Antonio from 16 to 18 November for a conference entitled “Becoming One”. Anglicans and Roman Ca­tholics will discuss and pray about the proposals.

Leader comment: The first departures to the Ordinariate

Question of the week: Will the bishops’ move make the case for fuller provision more difficult for traditionalists opposed to women bishops in the C of E?

Leader comment: The first departures to the Ordinariate

Question of the week: Will the bishops’ move make the case for fuller provision more difficult for traditionalists opposed to women bishops in the C of E?

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