Final Pastoral Letters
Final Pastoral Letter from The Bishop of Fulham, theRight Revd John Broadhurst
My resignation has been formally announced. I know that for many of you this will be not unexpected
but for others it will be a shock. I have thoroughly enjoyed being your Bishop and have thought it a great privilege. I remain utterly committed to our Catholic and Anglican heritage.
The Bishop of London intends to replace me and I hope that you will get a Bishop who is able to minister to you faithfully in the deteriorating situation in the Church of England.
It has been my great joy to work in three different Dioceses and in each of them I have felt welcomed and affirmed. I will miss many colleagues and the priests and parishioners of the parishes it has been my privilege to serve for more than 14 years.
My personal future is that I intend to enter the new Catholic Ordinariate being set up by the Pope. For 40 years I have been committed to the ARCIC process in which the Church of England seeks to unite with Rome. Recent
decisions in our own church have made a positive outcome to these talks less and less likely. The Holy Father has made what seems to me a positive and generous offer to Orthodox Anglicans and I do not feel any choice but to accept. The consequence of this will be that our Catholic and Anglican heritage exists in two different places. It is important that we all remain friends and do not do anything to undermine or criticise each other. I am very grateful for the affection and love which Judi and I have both found in all the parishes. Many thanks for everything that you have done over the years and for all that we have achieved.
My final act as a Bishop will be to celebrate the Mass at Gordon Square on the eve of Christ the King, Saturday 20th November at 12 noon. I hope to see many of you there.
Yours as ever,
Final Pastoral Letter from The Bishop of Richborough, the Right Revd Keith Newton
I imagine most of you will already know that I have resigned as Bishop of Richborough as from 31st December and will not be conducting any public episcopal services between now and then. I will, in due course, be received into full communion with the Catholic Church and join the Ordinariate when one is erected in England, which I hope will happen early next year. This has been a very difficult decision and has not been taken without much thought and prayer over the last year. For more than 8 years I have enjoyed being Bishop of Richborough; I have particularly valued the many visits to parishes for confirmations and other occasions. I am more grateful than I can say for the warmth, friendship and support I have experienced from so many priests and faithful lay people. I did not deserve it but I thank God for all I have received from you.
I am sure it will be said that I am leaving
because of the issue of the ordination of women to the episcopate. While it is
true that this has been an important factor in my thinking it is not the most
significant factor. The publication of the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum
Coetibus, just one year ago, came as a surprise and has completely changed the
landscape for Anglo Catholics. Since the inception of the ARCIC process, set up
by Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in the 1960s, most of us have
longed and prayed for corporate union with the Catholic Church; union which in
our own time has seemed less likely because of the new difficulties concerning
of women and other doctrinal and moral
issues affecting the Anglican Communion.
Although we must still pray for sacramental and ecclesial unity between our Churches that now seems a much more distant hope. The creation of Personal Ordinariates within the Catholic Church provides an opportunity for visible unity between Anglicans and the Catholic Church now, while still being able to retain what is best in our own tradition which will enrich the Universal Church. This is a hope which has been expressed many times by Forward in Faith and many others within the catholic tradition of the Church of England So I hope you will understand that I am not taking this step in faith for negative reasons about problems in the Church of England but for positive reasons in response to our Lord’s prayer the night before he died the ‘they may all be one.’
Some of you, of course, will be thinking that I am leaving just at the time when episcopal leadership for our parishes is vital. I have great sympathy with this view but there are a number of ways of understanding leadership. Some may think the leader should stay to the bitter end like the captain of a sinking ship, but the example in scripture is that of the shepherd and every instructed Christian knows the eastern shepherd leads from the front rather than following the flock from behind. This is what I hope I am doing. I am leading the way and I hope and pray that many of you will follow me in the months and the years ahead.
However, I know many of you will wish to remain in the Church of England if that is at all possible and for some they will do so whatever provision General Synod eventually adopts. For those I 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. You need a new Bishop of Richborough who has the same vision as you have and one for whom a solution in the Church of England is a priority.
My priority is union with the Universal Church.
For those whom I have let down and disappointed, I ask your forgiveness. I am only to well ware of my own failings and inadequacies but I have tried, though often failed, to be a loving and faithful bishop for you. I hope you will continue to pray for Gill and me as we take this significant step in our own Christian pilgrimage, as we will continue to pray for all of you.
May God bless you now and always,
Yours in our Blessed Lord,
Final Pastoral Letter from The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Right Revd Andrew Burnham
First, I must apologise for this letter appearing late: I have delayed writing it until 9th November, the day after
I announced my resignation from the See of Ebbsfleet, and the first anniversary of Anglicanorum coü tibus. Today is also the anniversary of Bishop John Richards’ death. When he became Bishop in 1994 many thought that he would be the one and only Bishop of Ebbsfleet. Who would have thought that he would have several successors – two so far? Bishop John was a fine man and I pray that he will rest in peace and share in the glory of the Resurrection.
My resignation takes effect on 31st December but, for bishops who become a Roman Catholic, custom requires that we cease public ministry forthwith. I foresaw how difficult this would be and it was for that reason that I arranged Study Leave, which began a month ago and lasts until the end of the year. I am extremely grateful for the countless messages of goodwill I have received. My farewell service is at 12 noon on 27th November at St John’s, New Hinksey, Oxford. I hope that some of you can be there.
Until the resignation was announced, I was careful not to recommend to anyone, or to any parish, how they should react to Anglicanorum coü tibus, the Holy See’s response to our appeal to Rome for help. Writing recently to laity in Oxford Forward in Faith who had expressed an interest in remaining in the Church of England whatever happens, my office duly sent them details of the Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda. Writing to those interested in the Ordinariate of England and Wales, I promised to hand on their details, with their permission, to the lay organisers. I hope something similarly even-handed happens in every diocese of the Church of England. As I have explained in the last three Pastoral Letters, this is a time for prayerful discernment.
The Holy Spirit is at work in the Church, not at our beck and call, but changing and transforming us and our communities. The pioneering Ordinariate groups, when they come into being, will be ‘fresh expressions of church’, mostly new, missionary congregations, seeking to bring people to the fullness of the Catholic Faith and to advance the work of the Kingdom.
It has been hard – and it will continue to be hard – to leave many of you behind. The relationship of a bishop with his people is that of a father and, of all the titles, ‘father’ is the one to cherish. To no longer be the father of the clergy, the people, and the parishes is a real bereavement. I love you and I miss you. Had the Ebbsfleet project succeeded, we would all have become a local church, not unlike an Ordinariate, but within the Church of England, and seeking unity corporately with the Holy See, a fulfilment of the ARCIC discussions these last forty years. That was our vision, and it was not to be. Those who see a future for Ebbsfleet need another bishop with a different vision.
Yet amidst the bereavement is also intense joy. The Ordinariate is not something that can be joined corporately. Like the Walsingham coach, we have to climb on board one by one. In the queue for the coach, and on the coach, the pilgrimage group are all together, with their pastor. A couple of dozen of these coaches will be on the road very soon in Southern England, and I shall be on one of them. Other coaches will join the pilgrimage later: some people are already making bookings. Those joining the pilgrimage – a ramshackle caravan of pilgrims stretching across the wastelands into the distance – are full of joy and hope. Their enthusiasm and faith are contagious. Though I have had chance to visit only four of the groups, lay leaders of other groups have been in touch. So too have the clergy who have been acting as chaplains of the groups, amidst their other responsibilities.
Never far from the back of my mind are the Farewell Discourses of Jesus in St John’s Gospel. After all, to follow Christ, even at our lowly level, means being prepared to walk on ahead, face the dangers and difficulties, and trust that those left behind will be cared for. There is no vainglory here. I am quite sure, faced with the Passion, I would have run away, like the other disciples. I too would have denied even knowing Jesus, and left it to the holy women to be constant and strong. But, looking through the Farewell Discourses, there is not only Jesus going ahead to prepare a place but also the promise of a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit (John 14). Jesus is the True Vine and, cut off from him, we can do nothing but wither and be thrown into the fire and burned (John 15).
His new commandment is to love one another. There are two musical settings of these words by sixteenth century composers, Sheppard and Tallis, working in the heat of the reformation battle. They were Catholics but bravely setting texts for the new Reformation Church. ‘By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another’. The work of the Spirit is to guide us into all the truth (John 16:13) and to glorify the Father and the Son.
Thus our sorrow will be turned into joy. We learn of the gift of Peace, which, amidst the tribulation of the world is found only in ChriSt Finally Jesus prays for the gift of Unity (John 17). It is that gift of Unity, I believe, which is offered to us, and through us eventually to all separated Christians, in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. It is because it is a gift of the Holy Spirit, abiding in his Church, that I believe I must accept it and invite others to come with me on the journey. The Church gathers round, and maintains its unity in communion with, the successor of Peter.
I disown and renounce nothing that I have done in Jesus’ name: God is faithful. But I am now laying aside my bishopric. Self-emptying (kenosis) is hard – harder than any of us can manage in our own strength – but it is basic to being a disciple, as the gospels constantly remind us. Everyone on the journey has to do some laying aside. But we pray, in Cowper’s words, echoing St John of the Cross: ‘The dearest idol I have known, Whate’er that idol be, Help me to tear it from Thy throne, And worship only Thee’.
It is a Parting of Friends. I was mindful of that on the feast of Blessed John Henry Newman, 9th October, when I went off to Littlemore to join in the Newman Mass there. This time we must do everything – better than we managed 150 years ago and 15 years ago – to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). Let us leave aside our squabbles and let God work in our midst
May God bless and keep you as you faithfully seek to serve him.
Issued by the Catholic Communications Network
Implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus The Establishment of a Personal Ordinariate in England and Wales
Much has been achieved over many years as a result of the dialogue and the fruitful ecumenical relations which have developed between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. Obedient to the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ to His Heavenly Father, the unity of the Church remains a constant desire in the vision and life of Anglicans and Catholics. The prayer for Christian Unity is the prayer for the gift of full communion with each other. We must never tire of praying and working for this goal.
During his visit to the United Kingdom in September, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was therefore keen to stress that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus: "...should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all."i
It is now just over one year since the Apostolic Constitution was published. The Pope’s initiative provided for the establishment of personal Ordinariates as one of the ways in which members of the Anglican tradition may seek to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. As the Holy Father stated at that time, he was responding to petitions received "repeatedly and insistently"ii by him from groups of Anglicans wishing "to be received into full communion individually as well as corporately."iii Since then, it has become clear that a number of Anglican clergy and their faithful do indeed wish to bring their desire for full ecclesial communion with the Catholic Church to realisation within an Ordinariate structure.
In collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome, the Bishops of England and Wales have been preparing for the establishment of an Ordinariate early in January 2011. Although there may be practical difficulties in the months ahead, the Bishops are working to address these at a national and local level.
Five Anglican Bishops who currently intend to enter the Ordinariate have already announced their decision to resign from pastoral ministry in the Church of England with effect from 31 December 2010. They will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church early in January 2011. During the same month, it is expected that the Decree establishing the Ordinariate will be issued and the name of the Ordinary to be appointed announced. Soon afterwards, those non-retired former Anglican Bishops whose petitions to be ordained are accepted by the CDF, will be ordained to the Catholic Diaconate and Priesthood for service in the Ordinariate.
It is expected that the retired former Anglican Bishops whose petitions to be ordained are accepted by the CDF, will be ordained to the Catholic Diaconate and Priesthood prior to Lent. This will enable them, together with the Ordinary and the other former Anglican Bishops, to assist with the preparation and reception of former Anglican clergy and their faithful into full communion with the Catholic Church during Holy Week.
Before the beginning of Lent, those Anglican clergy with groups of faithful who have decided to enter the Ordinariate will then begin a period of intense formation for ordination as Catholic priests.
At the beginning of Lent, the groups of faithful together with their pastors will be enrolled as candidates for the Ordinariate. Then, at a date to be agreed between the Ordinary and the local diocesan Bishop, they will be received into the Catholic Church and confirmed. This will probably take place either during Holy Week, at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday or during the Easter Vigil. The period of formation for the faithful and their pastors will continue to PentecoSt Until then, these communities will be cared for sacramentally by local clergy as arranged by the diocesan Bishop and the Ordinary.
Around Pentecost, those former Anglican priests whose petitions for ordination have been accepted by the CDF will be ordained to the Catholic Priesthood. Ordination to the Diaconate will precede this at some point during Eastertide. Formation in Catholic theology and pastoral practice will continue for an appropriate amount of time after ordination.
In responding generously and offering a warm welcome to those seeking full ecclesial communion with the Catholic Church within the Ordinariate, the Bishops know that the clergy and faithful who are on that journey of faith will bring their own spiritual treasures which will further enrich the spiritual life of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. The Bishops will do all they can to ensure that there is effective and close collaboration with the Ordinariate both at diocesan and parish levels.
Finally, with the blessings and encouragement they have received from Pope Benedict’s recent Visit, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales are resolved to continue their dialogue with other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities on that journey towards the communion in faith and the fullness of unity for which Christ prayed.
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