THE Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, has resigned to become a Roman Catholic, Lambeth Palace confirmed on Friday.
Bishop Goodall has been a Provincial Episcopal Visitor, a “flying bishop”, since 2013, supporting congregations in the Church of England that are unable to accept the ministry of women as priests or bishops. To fulfil this ministry, he has served as an honorary assistant bishop in ten dioceses in the Canterbury Province.
Before his consecration in 2013, he was personal chaplain and ecumenical secretary to Lord Williams when he was Archbishop of Canterbury, from 2005 to 2013. He has also had a long connection with Westminster Abbey, ministering as minor canon and sacrist there from 1992 to 1998, and serving two terms as a priest-vicar, in 2004-05, and from 2014. He was also chaplain to the Bishop in Europe from 1998 to 2005, when he was appointed an honorary canon of Gibraltar Cathedral.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said on Friday that he had accepted Bishop Goodall’s resignation “with regret”, expressing his deep gratitude for the Bishop’s “many years of faithful service”.
In a statement issued from Lambeth Palace, Bishop Goodall, who is married to Sarah, spoke of the difficulty of the decision. “I have arrived at the decision to step down as Bishop of Ebbsfleet, in order to be received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, only after a long period of prayer, which has been among the most testing periods of my life.”
He was careful not to malign the Church of England: “Life in the communion of the Church of England has shaped and nourished my discipleship as a Catholic Christian for many decades. This is where I first received — and for half my life have ministered, as priest and bishop — the sacramental grace of Christian life and faith.
“I shall always treasure this and be thankful for it. I trust you all to believe that I have made my decision as a way of saying yes to God’s present call and invitation, and not of saying no to what I have known and experienced in the Church of England, to which I owe such a deep debt.”
As for the future, Archbishop Welby said: “With regard to the see of Ebbsfleet, we will be starting a process of consultation with colleagues and others — including the parishes to whom Bishop Jonathan ministers — to determine what the next steps will be.”