LONDON, JULY 9, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Since the Church of England will now allow women bishops, one of its prelates is looking for “magnanimous gestures” from Benedict XVI to facilitate the entrance of Anglicans into the Catholic Church.
In a letter to be published in this week’s edition of Britain’s Catholic Herald newspaper, Anglican Bishop Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet said “traditional Anglo-Catholics” now face the decision of staying in the Church of England in “what, for a while, will be a protected colony — where the sacramental ministry of women bishops and priests is neither acknowledged nor received — or to leave.”
In a vote Monday, the general synod of the Church of England decided to allow the ordination of women bishops. Though a “code of practice” was discussed for those who do not in conscience accept the ordination of women bishops, it was not clearly defined.
Bishop Burnham acknowledged that the decision is not easy.
“You don’t become a Catholic, for instance, because of what is wrong with another denomination or faith,” he said. “You become a Catholic because you accept that the Catholic Church is what she says she is and the Catholic faith is what it says it is. In short, some Anglo-Catholics will stay and others will go.”
The bishop mentioned the similar decision already faced in 1992, when the Church of England decided to ordain women priests.
“As for those who choose to go, like in the early 1990s these will include some of the finest Anglican clergy,” he wrote. “Most of them are not motivated in the least by gender issues but by a keenness to pursue Catholic unity and truth.”
“What we must humbly ask for now is for magnanimous gestures from our Catholic friends, especially from the Holy Father, who well understands our longing for unity, and from the hierarchy of England and Wales,” Bishop Burnham said. “Most of all we ask for ways that allow us to bring our folk with us.”