17 October 2010

Swimming the Tiber, English Style

The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Bishop of Fulham, announced that he was going to be converting from the Church of England to the Roman Catholic Church. This move was prompted by what Bishop Broadhurst considers broken promises about provisions for opponents of women’s ordination to the Episcopate.  The path to conversion was facilitated by Pope Benedict XVI’s establishment of a “Personal Ordinariate” which allows converting Anglicans to maintain their way of worship and does not necessarily strip converting leaders of their episcopal offices.

Bishop Broadhurst felt that he had no choice but to accept the Holy See’s offer.  Broadhurst broadsides the Church of England’s General Synod:

It has been fascist in its behaviour, marginalising those who have been opposed to women's ordination. We have not been given any space.

To quell concerns about womens’ ordinations in 1993, the Church of England adopted an Act of Synod that introduced the notion of “two integrities”. At the time, that compromise seemed to provide a permanent safeguard against female ordinations through a system of "flying bishops" for traditional minded parishes.  But it had become clear that this compromise was just a stalling tactic until womens’ ordinations became inevitable.

Since the General Synod moved ahead with the introduction of female ordinations without any further concessions to traditionalist, it is feared that there will be a mass exodus of Anglo-Catholics away from the auspices of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  It still is possible, however, that the legislation on female ordinations could be blocked in 2012.

Broadhurst expressed disappointment that he is leaving the Church of England but he feels that the concerns of traditionalist have been ignored and that the Vatican seems to understand those beliefs and will not wait.  The Holy See has been quite receptive to welcoming estranged Anglicans brothers in Christ, but there have been some grumbling that English bishops have not been as easily welcoming.  So during his visit to the United Kingdom in September, Pope Benedict gently reminded the Bishops of England and Wales to generously implement the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which establishes means for Anglicans to bring their traditions into the Catholic fold.

Broadhurt’s strong statements have generated criticism both from those remaining loyal the the Court of Lambeth as well as those who are sympathetic to traditionalists.  Broadhurt’s swim across the Tiber could be complicated by a technicality that may make him ineligible for coverage under the Ordinariate. Broadhurst was baptized a Catholic and left the Church to become Anglican.  This Ordinariate may not cover retro-verts

No comments: