RICHBOROUGH, England, NOV. 9, 2010 (Zenit.org).- In a letter addressed to his congregation, Anglican Bishop Keith Newton of Richborough explained that he is not leaving the Church of England for negative reasons, but for positive ones.
In a pastoral letter published today, Bishop Newton confirmed his decision that was announced with four others Monday, and expressed his “hope” the his congregation will understand that his move isn’t motivated by “negative reasons about problems in the Church of England.”
He explained that he is making the move “for positive reasons in response to our Lord’s prayer the night before he died, [that] ‘they may all be one.'”
The apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus,” published a year ago, offered a way for groups of Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church through the establishment of personal ordinariates, a new type of canonical structure.
The constitution outlines that these communities will be able to retain some elements of their liturgical and spiritual traditions while being unified under the Pope.
Bishop Newton is one of three “flying bishops” — those who minister to the more traditional faithful who don’t accept the Anglican move toward ordination of women to the priesthood — who announced their intention to join the Catholic Church. The other two are Bishop Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet and Bishop John Broadhurst of Fulham.
Two retired bishops also resigned: Retired Bishop Edwin Barnes of Richborough, and retired Assistant Bishop David Silk of Exeter.
In the letter, Bishop Newton expressed his gratitude to the faithful of Richborough, whom he served for more than eight years. “I am more grateful than I can say for the warmth, friendship and support I have experienced from so many priests and faithful lay people. I did not deserve it but I thank God for all I have received from you,” he said.
The bishop stated that this was a decision that he struggled with for a long time: “While it is true that [the issue of the ordination of women] has been an important factor in my thinking, it is not the most significant factor.”
“My pilgrimage is now leading me in a different direction,” the Anglican bishop added.
The bishop went on to say that the publication of the apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus” came as a “surprise, and has completely changed the landscape for Anglo Catholics.”
Bishop Newton referenced the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), introduced by Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1967, which encouraged unity between the two churches. He stated that many in the Anglican clergy hoped for such unity for years; however, with the Church of England’s acceptance of certain matters, such as the ordination of women and “other doctrinal and moral issues,” that unity “now seems a much more distant hope.”
The bishop said that though his resignation will not take effect until Dec. 31, he “will not be conducting any public Episcopal services between now and then.”
— — —
On the Net:
Full text: www.richborough.org.uk/index.php/news/24/15