Monday May 3, 2010

Three Anglican Bishops Discuss Reunion with Rome

By James Tillman

LONDON, April 3, 2009 ( — Three traditionally-inclined Church of England bishops recently travelled to Rome for exploratory talks regarding Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which allows Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while retaining some of their distinctive religious practices.

Bishop John Broadhurst of Fulham, Bishop Keith Newton of Richborough, and Bishop Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet met with officials of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Each of the three Bishops are well-known for opposing the increasingly liberal path that the Church of England has taken, including the issue of the ordination of open homosexuals, and the ordination of women. The Bishop of Fulham is head of Forward in Faith, which calls itself a “worldwide association of Anglicans who are unable in conscience to accept the ordination of women as priests or as bishops.”

The ordination of women in the Church of England has caused much strife among their ranks. More women than men in the Church of England were ordained in 2006. A general Church of England Synod to be held this summer is expected to fail to provide any special provision or internal structure for Anglican believers who do not accept the ordination of women.

“I am sure this [failure] will come as a shock to many in our constituency,” Bishop Keith Newton has written, “as it would herald the end of Anglo-Catholicism as we understand it.”

“The general trend is not encouraging for us,” he continued. “Many of us will be asking whether it is indeed possible to minister in a Church which not only fails to understand our theological stance but consistently refuses to recognise the need for an adequate provision.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has tried with little success to quell the disagreement in the Anglican Communion caused by the ordination of women and by the ordination of open homosexuals.

Gene Robinson, an openly homosexual man, entered office in the Episcopal Church of the United States of America in 2003; the openly lesbian Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool was recently elected bishop of Los Angeles.

Many news sources emphasized that the bishops’ visit could ratchet tensions yet higher during the pope’s upcoming visit to Britain, which will take place from September 16 to 19. Widespread protests are expected during the pope’s visit.

The pope’s earlier publication of Anglicanorum Coetibus had been cast throughout the media as an attempt to poach the Church of England’s clergy. Supporters of the Catholic Church document, however, have pointed out that the constitution was issued in response to repeated requests for such a provision by traditional Anglicans.

The Church of England Bishop Keith Newton said that “despite what some detractors say,” Anglicanorum Coetibus is an “imaginative and generous response to those who have asked the Holy See to provide a way for groups of Anglicans to be received into communion with the Catholic Church.”

The Apostolic Constitution allows Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while aiming “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church.”

Bishop Newton and Bishop Andrew Burnam of Ebbfleet issued a statement upon the announcement of Anglicanorum Coetibus, in which they said that they had previously visited Rome and spoken with the Vatican in Eastertide of 2008.

“Following the decision of General Synod of the Church of England in July 2008 to proceed with the ordination of women to the episcopate, we appealed to the Holy Father for help and have patiently awaited a reply.”

They continued: “This Apostolic Constitution, addressed worldwide, feels to us to be a reply to concerns raised by others and by us and an attempt to allow all those who seek unity with the Holy See to be gathered in without loss of their distinctive patrimony.”

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Selection of First Openly Lesbian Bishop Furthers Split in Anglican Communion


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