The Pope of Christian Unity changed an Anglican bishop’s mind

From CNA:

Converting Anglican bishop says papal action changed the landscape

Richborough, England, Nov 14, 2010 / 06:45 pm (CNA).- The Anglican Bishop of Richborough told his flock that he plans to become Catholic because Pope Benedict XVI’s  apostolic constitution “completely changed the landscape” for Anglo-Catholics and he now believes that he must lead the way to union with the Universal Church. [Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.]

Bishop Keith Newton of Richborough, England said in a pastoral letter to priests and people in the Richborough area that he will resign as bishop as of Dec. 31. He will not conduct any public episcopal services. This “difficult” decision followed much thought and prayer, he remarked.

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.”

Pope Benedict established the proposed Anglican Ordinariate, a special jurisdiction within the Catholic Church, in his apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus.”

Bishop Newton explained that although the issue of the ordination of women as Anglican bishops has been an important factor in his decision, it is [NB]not the most significant.”

Noting the “surprise” of the Pope’s action on Anglican-Catholic relations, he said that most Anglicans have prayed for union with the Catholic Church. However, this union has seemed less likely because of “the new difficulties concerning the ordination 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,” Bishop Newton said. The ordinariates provide an opportunity for “visible unity” and Anglicans are able to retain “what is best in our own tradition which will enrich the Universal Church.

“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’,” the bishop continued.

While expressing sympathy with the position that Anglicans with traditional views need leadership at a “vital” time, he rejected the example of a leader who should “stay to the bitter end like the captain of a sinking ship.” Rather, he noted the scriptural image of the shepherd, who must lead his flock from the front rather than follow it from behind. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

“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,” he explained.

Bishop Newton acknowledged those who want to remain in the Church of England, but he said he could not continue to be their bishop “with any integrity” and cannot provide the episcopal leadership they 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,” he added.

He said he has enjoyed being Bishop of Richborough for more than eight years and is grateful for the support he has received from so many Anglican priests and laity. The bishop asked forgiveness from those he has disappointed and sought continued prayers for himself and his wife.

Bishop Newton is one of three active Anglican bishops who are joining the Catholic Church. These so-called “flying bishops” [lappets flapping…] have been serving Anglicans in different areas who do not accept the ordination of women to the priesthood and other changes in the Anglican Church.

Two retired Anglican bishops are also entering full communion with Rome.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. That’s decisiveness. Good for him.

  2. GuilhermeAraujo says:

    Hi Father Z.

    Could you please help me with a doubt regarding Anglicanorum Coetibus? I’ve read some parts of the document when it was released but I never understood some aspects of it. For example: aren’t the anglican ordinations invalid? How this is solved by the document? Will the anglican “bishops” who join an Ordianriate be able to say Mass an consecrate the bread and wine?

    Thnak you very much.

    God bless you and the beautiful work you’ve been doing,

  3. God bless him! He is showing true leadership. I pray that many in his flock will follow where he is leading.

  4. Gail F says:

    GuilhermeAraujo: A great deal has been written about this. Yes, Anglican ordinations are invalid. Current Anglican male priests and bishops will be eligible for ordination as Catholic priests on a case-by-case basis, just as they are now. This includes married Anglican priests and bishops. They will not be able to say mass the moment they join the Ordinariate because they are laymen. However, as the whole point of the Ordinariate is for priests and their parishes to join the Church in a group, I think it’s safe to assume that people from Rome or other Catholic bishops will be working with them for months ahead of time, and I wouldn’t be surprised (Fr. Z — correct me if I’m wrong) if some of these priests are ordained pretty quickly, perhaps even right away. But if so it will because of months or years of preparation (remember, some of these men have been studying the Catholic Church for years!) not because the Ordinariate means that they all get ordained.

    Bishops are a more difficult case. Married Anglican bishops, as I understand it, might be able to be ordained priests but are not eligible to be Catholic bishops. No Catholic rite allows married men to be bishops. BUT they are (in theory — A.C. has not yet been implimented) eligible to help run Ordinariates, just as lay people can help run parishes.

    I think this is a brilliant move by the pope and a wonderful step toward Christian unity.

  5. Jim of Bowie says:

    The Church must move quickly to establish the ordinariates. It seems there are more and more of these courageous people in a state of limbo. Their priests need to be put on the fast track to ordination.

  6. TJerome says:

    What a blessing to have this man in the Catholic Church. He is brave, very brave.

  7. AnAmericanMother says:

    And a thousand blessings on H.H. BXVI for making straight the path of the Lord!

    This is the record of John (Gibbons)

    Seemed apropos. It’s also the most beautiful setting of John 1:19 in existence. Plus it is as Anglican as anything could possibly be (listen to what beautiful music Richborough and his flock will bring with them!)

  8. HighMass says:

    The Holy Father is Truely the POPE of Christian Unity! Viva il Papa!
    Welcome Home To Our Anglican Brethern!

  9. GuilhermeAraujo says:

    GailF: Thank you very much!

    God bless you!

Comments are closed.