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article imageAnglican bishops converting to Catholicism could threaten church

By Andrew John     Jan 15, 2011 in World
As three dissatisfied Anglican bishops in the UK prepare to enter the Roman Catholic Church, some senior Anglicans are warning that that the bishops’ move will jeopardise the future of the Church of England as a broad Church.
The three are traditionalists, unhappy with the ordination of women into the Anglican Church.
“Like some other traditionalist clergy on the Catholic wing of the Church of England, they opposed the introduction of women bishops, and do not believe sufficient provision was being made for traditionalists to avoid coming under the jurisdiction of women,” says the BBC.
The trio, Keith Newton (ex-bishop of Richborough), Andrew Burnham (former bishop of Ebbsfleet), and John Broadhurst (of Fulham), will take up roles in a section of the Roman Catholic Church known as the Ordinariate.
All three have previously acted as “flying bishops,” supervising Church of England parishes that have opted out of contact with women priests.
In another BBC report, the corporation’s religious affairs correspondent, Robert Pigott, says it’s believed that the bishops’ ordination “could fundamentally change the Church they leave behind.”
Pigott writes: “Mr Newton has estimated that some 50 other Anglican clergy might join in the coming months, and a couple of dozen parish groups, but many seem likely to wait to see how the Ordinariate develops.”
Newton does not mind giving up his former status of bishop, however.
Pigott quotes him as having said last November: “There are sacrifices to do with things like where I’m going to live, where I’m going to work, what I’m going to do, how I’m going to be paid, so I’m taking a bit of a step into the dark, a step of faith. But I do that with some joy really.”
Sad and angry
Prebendary David Houlding, who is in the Catholic Group on the Church of England Synod, is both sad and angry at the ordination. While his anger is directed largely at his own church, be thinks the bishops’ decision to convert to Catholicism is premature.
“The Church of England hasn’t finally settled what sort of provision [to operate outside the supervision of women bishops] we are going to get,” he said. “There’s more work to do, we haven’t reached a satisfactory conclusion, there’s no certainty that the legislation will go through as it stands.”
Pigott says of Newton that he “insists that his conversion to Catholicism and membership of the Ordinariate is not solely to do with the ordination of women, but about maintaining ‘unity’ at a time when he sees the Church of England departing from tradition.”
Pigott adds: “There are few signs of a mass exodus of Anglicans at the moment, but Mr Houlding, for one, fears that Pope Benedict has opened a door in the Church of England, that will in perpetuity encourage unhappy traditionalists to leave rather than fight their corner.”
The ordinations will take place at Westminster Cathedral.
More about Anglican priests, Catholic Church, Ordinate, Women bishops, Women priests
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