Anglican bishop lays miter, crozier at Our Lady’s feet and goes to Rome

Anglicans who come over to Rome often make dramatic, painful sacrifices.  They risk losing ties with family and friends, incomes, social standing, and particularly access to sound worship, though under Anglicanorum coetibus that risk is now greatly reduced.  They Anglican clergy will set an example for many lay people who are ready to follow.

From Damian Thompson comes this piece with my emphases.

Anglican bishop lays his mitre and crozier at the feet of Our Lady as he leaves for Rome

By Damian Thompson

Rev Andrew BurnhamAn intensely touching detail from the final Anglican sermon of the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, delivered yesterday at St John the Evangelist, New Hinksey, Oxford. As the Ordinate Portal reports, at the end of the service, Bishop Burnham – who will be ordained into the Ordinariate as a Catholic priest – “laid aside his crozier and mitre at the feet of Our Lady”. Here is his sermon:

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? John 14:2

Thank you, all of you, for getting out the snow-chains and coming here today. It was a bit of an after-thought to put on this service: I am supposed to be on Study Leave and I knew, in my heart, that it would turn into Gardening Leave, that I should be resigning rather than returning to the work of a bishop in your midst. But I shall always remember my wife, Cathy, telling the students at St Stephen’s House on the Leavers’ Course, that it is vital to leave properly, to say your goodbyes, and move on. It’s not quite what the Americans call ‘closure’ but it’s something like it. It is what distinguishes a decent departure from a death. In some ways, leaving is uncomfortably like dying. As I sit in my office, I hear about what is going on. Other bishops providing cover: and we are already grateful to Bishop Lindsay Urwin for that. The Council of Priests meeting and talking about what kind of Bishop of Ebbsfleet is needed in future. Stories that suggest that people are not moving off but simply moving on, looking forward to a new bishop and life returning to normal.


I’m also leaving behind the hugely maddening Anglo-catholic movement: its frailty and fearlessness, its humour and its holiness. It is a home for some slightly disreputable characters – and the ministry of Jesus specialised in being at table with slightly disreputable characters. […]

The Anglo-catholic movement has fought a losing battle for 150 years, trying to convince the Church of England that she would be Catholic if only she conformed herself to the Catholic Faith and fully embraced Catholic Faith and Order. It was a losing battle when I was a little boy of ten, told off for sticking saints’ names into the Confiteor at the Early Communion. It was a losing battle when I was twenty and Fr Hooper was still going strong at Mary Mags, filled to the gunwales despite its extreme churchmanship. It is a losing battle now, as the General Synod presumes to discuss matters of Faith and Order on which classical Anglicanism always claimed to have the same view as the universal Church, the Church of the First Millennium, East and West.

But I love the Church of England – the mainstream bit – and shall miss her. She taught me the psalms and the Revised Standard Version. She taught me about music in the service of God. She taught me about the beauty of holiness. Oh yes, the naughty excitement of the Folies Bergère may be available in Anglo-catholic worship but the dull dignity of cathedral worship, the seemliness and the decency, is something I shall also miss. I have tried to gather some of that up in today’s service. There is nothing more Anglican than Herbert Howells’ Collegium Regale, ‘Let all mortal flesh keep silence’ by Edward Bairstow, one-time organist of York Minster, and the psalm chant by George Thalben-Ball, long-time organist of the Temple Church. There is little more beautiful in literature than the Cranmerian cadences of the traditional language of the Prayer Book, which, rather unusually, we are using today. I shall even miss some of those in the mainstream whom I have known and with whom I have worked.

So, if leaving well is calling to mind what one will miss, then I am learning to leave. If it is about looking forward to what is coming next, then I’m not sure: I have never been less sure of how the future will unfold. But, finally – and I have given up trying to make this address into a proper sermon – I must say, if I am to leave properly, thank you for all you have done for me, for all you have been for me, and for all you are to me, and always will be to me. For many, I hope it will be ‘see you soon’ rather than ‘good-bye’ but, on your journey of discipleship, look not to me but to the Lord whom we serve. He alone can teach us how to be pilgrims on the way that leads to Paradise.

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

From what I read here, this fellow seems to be a class act.

And he is leaping out into a gulf.

Do go and read the whole of the sermon.  I cut out great swathes of it for the sake of keeping this brief.

Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Just Too Cool, Pope of Christian Unity and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. RichR says:

    I imagine there were many tears in the congregation.

    As far as liturgy, I was a member of an Anglican Use parish set up under Pope JPII, and I miss it dearly. I had to move to a different town, and can no longer attend. It truly was Heaven-on-earth: polyphonic motets, hieratic English, altar rail, ad orientem, beautiful statues, magnificent vestments, incense, altar boys and men in cassock and surplice, sung Propers, sung Credo, pipe organ, the Deacon chanting the Gospel, etc……. {sigh}

    Now I get bongoes and guitars. No comparison.

  2. Jim of Bowie says:

    People like Bishop Burnham will be an immense benefit to the Roman Catholic Church. I hope many Anglo Catholics take advantage of AC.

  3. ‘Then answered Peter and said unto him, “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?”

    ‘And Jesus said to them: “Amen, I say to you, that you who have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of his majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My Name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”‘

  4. Rich says:

    Bishop Burnham says: ” Fr Z who gets in touch every few months with yet another tranche of candidates for me to confirm. ” What’s this I read? If I were you, Father, I would be a bit concerned about the validity of the confirmations for which you are offering the good bishop candidates. He’s not Catholic yet…

  5. mike cliffson says:

    It’s not about “feelgood”
    And suburbanbanshee is right re rewards for renouncement.
    But I for one would feel good good if he got as quotable a welcome home as his goodbye.

  6. Mitchell NY says:

    In the order of saying “Goodbye”, one must always be aware that “Hello”, and “Welcome” is around the next corner. I hope many Anglican clergy follow his lead and the Pope’s invitation. I am sure they are going to feel like they are home once things settle in. This is a good thing.

  7. Supertradmum says:

    This is so moving. One of the things these men give up is their pensions, and if they have families, those families are without the pensions. There are both financial and emotional, as well as professional sacrifices. What an example for all of us, and God bless you, Bishop. We accept you with open arms and open hearts.

  8. CaliCatholicGuy says:

    How very brave! We are blessed to have him coming into our fold.

    Rich, I don’t think the Father Z that Bishop Burnham refers to is our illustrious host, but rather anonymous Anglican priests, a la the XYZ affair: ” Fr X who calls a spade an ‘effin’ shovel’. Fr Y whose private generosity to me and support has been extraordinary.  Fr Z who gets in touch every few months with yet another tranche of candidates for me to confirm.”

    Unless of course you meant this in jest in which case I’d feel silly for explaining this. :)

  9. Dave N. says:

    So, where does this bishop go in the meantime? The local Catholic church? (I’m betting that if so, this will be drastically different from worship as he has been accustomed to.) Why leave before the ordinariate is established?

    “He is leaping out into a gulf.”


  10. MikeJ9919 says:


    Rumor is that the Anglican bishops who are swimming have been in touch with Rome and they will be brought into the ordinariate in January, with parishioners and clergy to follow later in the year. Leaving now may actually be cutting it a bit close, since I am sure there is much study and preparation that must be done (then again, we don’t know what is going on behind the scenes).

  11. Denis Crnkovic says:

    I was pleased to see that Bishop Burnham chose St John’s at New Hinksey for his final Anglican ceremony: if I remember the parishioners from my brief but welcoming visits there, their reactions probably ranged from serious bewilderment to thoughful consideration. St John’s is a ‘conservative’ parish, but has ‘sponsored” women parishioners for Anglican orders. It is a microcosm of the Angst facing the High Church.

    Bishop Burnham is a brave man to take so many things that are obviously so beloved to him, leave them behind, and face an uncertain future: an expression of sheer Faith and Hope.

    I would have liked to have been there.

  12. AnAmericanMother says:

    God bless him abundantly.

    He is doing the RIGHT thing — how can you in good conscience stay in a place and take a salary when you no longer have faith in the organization? But in doing the right thing he is taking great risks.

    I hope that he is welcomed with open arms and that everyone does all they can to smooth the way for him. Our local parish certainly went above and beyond to welcome us . . . and we had nothing to lose, compared with this good bishop who really has given up almost everything material and financial — not to mention friends and associates. There are some former good friends who no longer speak to us, which is very sad — but at least we still have a paycheck and a roof over our heads!

  13. Rich says:

    Dave N.,

    To clarify, yes: pure jest.


  14. irishgirl says:

    Went over to read the whole sermon-wow, just wow.
    I’m sure that there were ‘many’ tears in the congregation.
    How very touching that the Bishop laid his crosier and his miter at Our Lady’s feet! May she enfold him, his family, and all the other Anglicans who will be ‘swimming the Tiber’ in her maternal embrace!

  15. Brad says:

    Anyone, least of all a bishop, who makes a point of demonstrating devotion to Mary is wonderful to me. The Bishop’s sign tells me all I need to know about him.

    I entered RCIA because of Her rosary. When I told my exceptionally Marian priest that, he just nodded and said something to the effect of “then we know what we need to know about that!”.

    As I drove to work this morning I heard a radio homily (sounded like a recorded live parish mission homily) by a priest talking mostly about the evils of sin vs the Trinity’s love. He rather lavishly peppered his hour with all things Mary: if a man can be hard-hearted toward his creator, or even his savior, or his sanctifier, perhaps that man might at least have a soft spot in his heart for Her, who utterly deserves such a soft spot.

    As one who has read Venerable Mary of Agreda’s Mystical City of God, I am in awe of the perfect creature, Mary, because her awesomeness reveals the awesomeness of her creator, her son, and her spouse.

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