One bishop and a small parish in Folkestone have independently announced that they will leave the Church of England for the Roman Catholic Church and be the first into the ordinariate offered to them by Pope Benedict XVI a year ago. The exodus has begun.
The apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, “On groups of Anglicans”, was simultaneously unveiled at the Vatican and in London a year ago, when it was thought that up to 500,000 traditional Anglicans and 50 of their bishops from around the world, prompted by their disaffection with the direction of their own Church, could enter into full communion with Rome.
The Church of England’s move to allow women to become bishops is just one example of change that they oppose.
At the end of his visit to Britain last month, the Pope reminded the Catholic bishops of England and Wales to be “generous” in implementing Anglicanorum Coetibus, which he called “a prophetic gesture” that “helps us to set our sights on … the restoration of full ecclesial communion”.
Just how many will now join this exodus is hard to assess, but the prelates most likely to accept the Pope’s offer were always going to be the Church of England’s “flying bishops”, who were installed to minister to those who could not accept the 1992 decision to ordain female priests.
Meanwhile the first parish announced its desire to join the structure. The Parochial Church Council of St Peter’s, Folkestone (pictured), a small traditionalist parish of 40 or so worshippers, voted to instruct their churchwardens to contact the diocese and start negotiations for moving to the ordinariate.
In the next few weeks, the pace of these apparently isolated decisions may quicken.
FULL STORY The journey begins (The Tablet)