A NEW network, Anglican Catholic Future, has been endorsed by 21
bishops from 19 dioceses.
The network was launched on Thursday of last week at the Church
of the Annunciation, Marble Arch, in central London. More than 300
Anglo-Catholic clergy and laity were present at a votive mass of
the Holy Spirit celebrated by the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd
The object of the new network, it says, is to restore faith and
unity within the C of E's Catholic wing. Its mission statement
declares: "By returning to the fundamentals of the apostolic faith,
but without recourse to political agendas and party rivalries, we
seek the renewal and revitalisation of the Church's mission and
It continues: "The Catholic identity of the Church of England
has suffered a crisis stemming from a preoccupation with divisive
issues. As a result the Catholic tradition in Anglicanism has
become fragmented and nerveless. Many who hold this tradition dear
feel that the time is right to rediscover our Catholic roots and
values for the sake of the Church's witness in our land."
In a message to the network, read by the Bishop of Southwark,
the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, the Archbishop of Canterbury said:
"I am deeply grateful to God for the Catholic principles which you
espouse and by which you live. I am thankful that together we
belong to a Church both Catholic and Reformed - a Church which
welcomes a breadth of Christian expression under the Lordship of
The sermon, preached by the Revd Dr Peter Groves, Vicar of St
Mary Magdalen's, Oxford, one of the network's trustees, reflected
its manifesto. The ACF was not a membership organisation, but a
network intended to equip clergy and laity from the Catholic
tradition for Christian ministry "rooted in Catholic practice,
piety and theology".
"If we are prepared to stop talking loudly about our own new
ideas, we might be patient enough to listen to and learn from the
universality, the Catholicity, of the Christian faith. There is
nothing in God's creation which is not transformed by the incarnate
love of Christ, past, present, and future."
The new network wanted to avoid divisive issues that had led to
a crisis in the Catholic tradition in Anglicanism. "These issues
are important but not of the essence," another trustee, the Revd
Philip Chesters, Vicar of St Matthew's, Westminster, said.
Last week's launch was the culmination of almost two years of
discussion among Anglo-Catholics in Greater London. The aim was to
extend the network throughout the country, Fr Chesters said this
Ten regional groupings are being established. Future events will
include a pilgrimage to Canterbury in October.