Our London Correspondent on the Former Anglican bishops now Catholic priests in England

London SCE commentator, Adam, noticed a lacuna in my reporting on SCE – I haven’t said anything about the ordination of the former Anglican Bishops. He has written up this report for us, which gives a personal “I was there” view:

15 January 2011

Dear David

You do not have anything on your blog as of today re the remarkable event that occured this morning in London at Westminster cathedral, so I thought I would send you these comments should you choose to put them on your site.

I rose early in order to be at the mother church of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales this morning. There was going to be a very historic liturgy taking place at Westminster Cathedral. On arrival just before 10am the cathedral was half full. By 1030 as the liturgy commenced, it was packed to capacity with over 2000 people present. There was a long procession of priests and 5 bishops, led by Archbishop Nichols along with the ordinandi, the three former Anglican bishops who became Catholics only two weeks ago, January 1st. Two days ago they were ordained deacons at the London seminary.

I noticed a number Anglican bishops moving around with their wives in the cathedral and thought ‘were they also contemplating crossing the Tiber’? Well we will have to see.
It was a remarkable Mass, led by Archbishop Nichols who read out the decree from Cardinal Levada establishing the Ordinariate under the name of Our lady of Walsingham and patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman.

But amidts the obvious joy of the whole liturgy you could fee the historic importance being celebrated. The Archbishop told us all that this was indeed ‘Church history in the making’ and as I looked towards the sanctuary filled with priests and bishops loads of thoughts rushed through my mind. Henry VIII must be turning in his tomb; Cranmer must be recollecting himself. But above all I marvelled that on the sanctuary were three men who only weeks earlier had been bishops in the Church of England. Now as ‘infant Catholics’ of only 14 days, they were being ordained as priests, promising obedience and respect to their Ordinary.

At the rite of clothing the new preists with their chasubles, their wives (3) came forward from the congregation and handed them over to the newly ordained and kissed their priestly husbands. That in itself was historic.

The archbishop gave a very moving homily pointing out the historic nature of the ceremony and how the Cathedral had never seen anything like it before.

But there was a very moving moment at the end, just before the procession left the sanctuary. The archbishop removed his mitre and handed over his crozier, then knelt on the carpet. each newly-ordained former bishop stepped forward and blessed the kneeling arhcbishop. It was a very incredible moment (this usually takes place out of the public eye after ordinations).

As the long procession made its way to the great door, a huge round of applause went up from the congregation. It continued until the bishops reached the end of the long aisle.

It was truly an historic day for the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom and indeed for the global Church.


(there is very good coverage and comment as usual in The Daily Telegraph by Damian Thompson)

Thanks, Adam! Any time you want to provide us with some updates on these matters from your own perspective, we would be most glad to publish your contributions.

Damien Thompson also appears in this Ruth Gledhill report:

This coverage

I also ask readers of SCE to keep retired former Anglican Bishop of Ballarat, David Silk, in your prayers. David and his wife Joyce have already been received into communion with the Catholic Church. He will be ordained a deacon on 15th February and a priest on 18th February.

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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1 Response to Our London Correspondent on the Former Anglican bishops now Catholic priests in England

  1. Matthias says:

    David I was at “Opera in the Alps” on Saturday last,and near me sat the local Anglican vicar-very friendly,jovial and obviously extremely popular with his flock ,and also other Beechworth locals. (My 90 year old aunt,a staunch UCA member and a friend of the late Fr Brian Brophy,thought that the vicar was catholic and that the woman with him was his “housekeeper”? I put her straight,as I had seen the Anglican prayer medal around his neck). But two things struck me:
    -I wonder what he thought of the Anglicans who are going back to the Tiber and hence refuting Henry VIII and the “top down” English reformation??
    – The Diocese he is in- Wangaratta -is extremely Anglo catholic and I wondered if he or his brethren have “Tiber rowers” within their midst ,and what consternation would arise if there was a move made to walk from Canterbury and cross the Tiber,especially in rural communities,there would be considerable angst.

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