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mock-Mass to farewell faux-bishop?

image008Even our local newspaper, never much interested in religion except when there is scandal involved, has mentioned the decision of Church of England Bishop John Broadhurst to join the Roman Catholic Church. John Broadhurst, 68, is leaving the Anglican Church because he does not accept the validity of women’s ordination. And his response is to join… wait for it… a denomination that does not accept the validity of his own ordination.

So far so ironic.

He has given his life to a catholic sacramental understanding and he is now joining a denomination that declares that every one of his priestly and episcopal sacramental actions thus far was and is “absolutely null and utterly void“. John Broadhurst has been playing dress-up. Cradle Roman Catholics might be “cafeteria catholics”, picking and choosing their beliefs and practices like any good protestant, but surely consciously choosing to join, as John Broadhurst is doing, means accepting the coherence of the Roman position. Start denying one Roman teaching and soon the whole warp and weft lies in messy tatters on the floor.

Anglicanism does not regard ordination as some sort of permission to function within Anglican boundaries. Like Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Old Catholics, and others, Anglicans ordain a person as a bishop in the Church of God, the universal church. You are either a bishop, or you are not. John Broadhurst, in joining the RC Church is declaring he is not a bishop. Hence it was perfectly right and appropriate, that from the moment he made this decision he said, “We shall be ceasing, therefore, from public episcopal ministry forthwith.”

But wait there’s more.

Bishop John’s own “pastoral letter” concludes with the words, “My final act as a Bishop will be to celebrate the Mass at Gordon Square on the eve of Christ the King, Saturday 20th November at 12 noon. I hope to see many of you there.”

What catholic-minded Anglican would consider receiving communion at a Eucharist where a bishop presided who believed his orders are absolutely null and utterly void?

I wonder what his RC advisers make of this. Clearly he cannot both preside at the Eucharist with proper intention and also intend honestly to make the profession of faith required to enter the RC Church.

John Broadhurst will join a “Personal Ordinariate“, a structure which Pope Benedict XVI is setting up within Roman Catholicism for former Anglicans. When the Ordinariates were announced there were estimates of half a million taking up this offer. I claimed this was a grossly inflated estimate, and I still maintain that this figure will not be reached. Ecclesial communities can look quite significant when they have a flashy website! And some CofE bishops deciding to spend their retirement in the Church of Rome rather than in the pews of the Church of England is hardly a mass exodus of half a million! Even if such numbers are reached – I think the bigger issue will be for Roman Catholics. Having seen good and holy priests leave to get married (over 100,000 of them!) they will now have to put up with married priests. [Another liturgical aside may be that, as the new controversial translation of the Latin Mass into English comes into effect, these ex-Anglicans will be using liturgies composed in English of undisputed quality.]

John Broadhurst will be allowed to continue playing dress-up. He has also announced he will remain the chairman of Forward in Faith which, he says, is “not a Church of England organisation” (sic.) The ultimate irony may be that he now may experience what women clergy have felt when told by him that their orders are not valid.

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18 thoughts on “mock-Mass to farewell faux-bishop?”

  1. David |Dah•veed|

    It is all a bit bizarre. “One last invalid sacrament before I go. Just for old time’s sake.”

    I have doubts that world wide the Ordinariates will reach half a million.

    I am think that the liturgy that they will use will be the authorized Anglican Rite currently used in the Anglican Use parishes that already exist in the USA. Newly printed with British spelling conventions.

  2. As a “Byzantine (Roman) Catholic I find this sort of odd at best. As the Osmonds would say, “I’m a little bit country… and I’m a little bit Rock & Roll…” and so it goes. We pray for unity.

  3. Well, yes, I agree it’s bizarre to think what he’s been playing at the past few decades.

    However, taking
    Start denying one Roman teaching and soon the whole warp and weft lies in messy tatters on the floor.

    I’m not convinced about that. Maybe, like a good consumer, he’s just choosing the package that best fits him, by his own weighting? +5 points for being anti-women bigots, -2 points “I was never a bishop anyway”.
    And in that, it says an awful lot for his misogyny: he chooses to define his own role and therefore himself, by oppression of others.

    Good riddance to him.

  4. On the logic of your critique, Bosco, there is only one explanation in respect of your words, “What catholic-minded Anglican would consider receiving communion at a Eucharist where a bishop presided who believed his orders are absolutely null and utterly void?” The good, if faux bishop is graciously offering evangelically-minded Anglicans one last chance to remember with thanksgiving the death of our Lord, aided by a token administered as the last rite of this minister while he remains in good standing with the congregation of faithful men known as the Church of England 🙂

  5. I’m not so sure about
    “while he remains in good standing with the congregation of faithful men known as the Church of England”.

    Surely, once he announced his intention of becoming a Roman Catholic he walked away from being in good standing. By intention he is no longer an Anglican – even if he has not yet, officially, become a Roman Catholic.

    Forward in Faith is an Anglican organisation. They have little integrity for most anglicans as it is, and will have even less if they allow Mr Broadhurst to continue in post.

  6. Every time I think of the flying bishops crossing the Tiber, I think of the former Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon’s quip: ‘Raising the average IQ of both [Churches]’

  7. This blog is typical of the reason that the Bishop is leaving. You have no charity in what you say for someone who believes in the order of the ‘shared’ orders that the majority of Churches believe in.

    You are so quick to jump on what you like to see as the hypocrisy and yet you omit to see your own hypocrisy. How can you speak of a shared order in the Church of God when the pimple on the bum of Christianity (Anglicanism) chooses to do with that order what it likes without joint agreement.

    Grow up, mature and show a bit more Christian concern for a man who has never wavered in holding to what he holds true, who is standing by his principles and who has effectively been told that there is no room for someone whose views on Holy Order have never changed from that of the historic universal Church … unlike yours.

    1. Dorothy, your opinions are welcome here, but I caution you about your ad hominems. I’m also not at ease with your description of Christianity as a bum. Write in this vein again, and your comment will not go through moderation.

    2. Dorothy, whilst I share some of your opinion and began reading your comment with joy, I was quickly dismayed by your use of language and further surprised by your inability, whilst pointing out the lack of charity of another, to see your own similar lack!

  8. Forgive me a non Anglican for intruding.
    I was chrismated Orthodox in New Zealand and I think you will find that the world wide Orthodox Churches have married priests who are male because of the belief that they actually represent The Lord who, being resurrected in the body is still a Jewish male.
    The saints who took Christianity to Britain were Orthodox since the Roman church had not yet split off from the rest.
    It would be charitable to think that the Anglican bishop is thinking of the roots of Christianity in Britain rather than hating females.
    He would have become Orthodox more easily in England where there is a fuctioning Antiochian Orthodox Church rather than having to go all the way to Rome, though:-)joke.

    1. Thanks for your contribution, Alexandra. I cannot speak for people who join Rome rather than Orthodoxy, but I think yours is an important question. I’m not sure how you get from priests represent a “Jewish male” to priests have to be male but do not have to be Jewish? Nor am I sure how you would end up stressing that they are married when, presumably, they represent an unmarried Jewish male?

  9. David Isherwood

    As Rob Bell once remarked about the church, ‘Is this what God really had in mind?’ It’s just all so very very sad and as a result we all look so very, very foolish.

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