Friday, 15 October 2010

Bishop Broadhurst and the Ordinariate

The announcement of Bishop John Broadhurst, the Anglican Bishop of Fulham and Chairman of Forward in Faith, that he is to join the Ordinariate as soon as possible will not come as a shock to many, but some will be alarmed that he, in particular, has made this statement so quickly - and following the visit of Pope Benedict. Some Catholics who think they know what is likely to happen have suggested that nothing much will happen to begin with and that only a few Anglicans will take up the Pope's gracious and historic offer. It is my belief that these Catholics are wrong. I cannot say exactly why (it would not be fair at this stage to say who I believe is likely to be considering such a move) but I believe there will be a substantial movement involving groups, not just individuals. The Ordinariate may turn out to be more significant than we at first thought - perhaps opening the door to something we hardly dare think of - the beginning of a new alignment of Christians in Britain.

Another thing to be said - and this was pointed out by an Anglican friend - the Ordinariate is not simply about Anglicans becoming Roman Catholics. This is not how the text is worded. We are talking about Anglicans being united with Rome. We have yet to discover just what this means in practice, but there are already "Anglicans" in the United States ("Anglican Use") in union with Rome, and they continue to worship in ways which look very similar to Anglo-Catholics (though there are changes in the celebration of the Eucharist). We must not make the mistake of reading these historic events in a simplistic way. Something different is happening and it already promises much.


  1. ..."a new alignment" of Christians sounds like an exciting initiative and totally orthodox; but what do we understand by the term Christian today?
    What can "Christians" totally agree on, to put up a united front and moreover to what end and how?
    I pray that those separated brethren of ours who now feel the need to take the trip across the Tiber do so with an overriding sense of joy rather than understandable sorrow.

  2. Good questions, but if the Holy Spirit inspired the Pope to make this offer (and I firmly believe He did) then we have to trust in Him and pray that the enemy will not succeed in muddying the waters again (!). I really think we are witnessing the beginning of something wonderful.

  3. I don't see this strange fellow and a tiny parish having much impact. The man was baptised Catholic and remained so until age 16. He is now 68 with nothing to lose.

  4. Thank you, Father for yr upbeat assessment of this development. I agree with you that this is not to be regarded as just Anglicans becoming RCs. Yet this is how it is interpreted by Canon Ashenden in the latest issue of the True Life in God magazine. I was particularly disappointed because I am, like Fr Gavin, a student of the Messages which contain strong words from Our Lord about the need for Christians to seek unity around the Chair of Peter. This is what Bp John is doing and many of us are delighted he has taken such a decisive position and is giving us the episcopal leadership we need. Needless to say, I and a number of people at the church where I minister are seriously considering the Holy Father's prohetic offer.

  5. Evan, I think you are being a little unfair (to say the least)in your description of Bishop Broadhurst. However, since he seems to have a self-deprecating sense of humour he would probably agree with you. He has been a very important person in the Catholic movement in the C of E, and has been quite courageous and forthright at times whilst trying to be respectful to others. Many have benefited from his leadership - and still do. As for a small parish having any effect, I think we can leave that one aside considering Our Lord started with only 12 men, ten of whom ran away and one of whom betrayed him. It is not the size of the parish that matters but what God is doing with it.