He is one of the five bishops who have resigned in October by the Anglican Church and is now waiting to be received into the Catholic Church. The Anglican Bishop of Fulham, the Rt. Rev. John Broadhurst, is also a candidate to head the new procedure as set out by the Pope to receive the Anglican faithful who seek to “return” to the Catholic Church. And in this interview with La Bussola Quotidiana, he explains the reasons for his choice.
How did you come to the decision to become Catholic?
I always prayed for the unity of the Church of England with the Catholic Church, for unity between the two Churches, but the Church of England has moved away from the Catholic Church and there are no longer signs of unity. There was a time when I was a young priest when I thought that reunification was possible. Today it is no longer the case.
And what convinced her to take the step to become Catholic?
The Pope’s offer. I felt that I could not refuse his offer. When you ask yourself a question and you have a clear answer, you must follow that answer. The Pope’s offer says to Anglicans like me, ” here is a home for you if you want it”, and I do not think, if I am right, that I can refuse this offer which is what my ministry was all about in over last thirty years. How do I see the Pope? I see the Pope as the leader of Christians in the world. I also think that, with his offer, he has been shown to understand the dilemma of Anglicans.
It was said several times in the newspapers that one of the biggest problems for Anglicans who want to become Catholic is the economic issue.
Yes, I think that’s true. No one knows who will pay the Anglicans who become Catholic priests, or where they are going to live.
In your decision to become a Catholic,what weight has the fact that the Anglican Church decided to ordain women bishops had?
It was one of the reasons, but not the most important. For me the most important problem is the unity between the two churches, and I saw that with the decision to ordain women bishops and other decisions, such as allowing homosexual marriages, the Anglican Church was moving away from the Catholic Church. When the Pope came to England, he often spoke of relativism. I think the Anglican Church has been too influenced by secular society and now no longer defends truth as absolute and untouchable. This is happening in many churches. They are completely absorbed by contemporary reality.
Do you believe that there are values to be defended at all costs?
Yes, I think the churches should defend some values at all costs, and should not conform in all things to the world in which they live. If something is true, it is true and, as such, should be protected and defended. I think we have to follow the Scriptures and tradition.
Will you miss your “work” as a bishop?
Yes, I think so. I retire at the end of the year and will be a very sad moment for me. I really like being a bishop above all especially for the love and respect you show other people, and I think that I will miss it and I also miss the friends whom I work with now. But I must say that I do not consider the priesthood a personal possession. Some people are very attached to the status of priest. This is not my case. I think I have to do what the Pope asks me to do.
What will happen to you?
Not sure yet. I just hope to see the Ordinariate as set out by the Pope in the Apostolic Constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus” and this is my only expectation. It should take place next year between January and Easter.
What structure will it have?
There will be an Ordinary who will be responsible for the Ordinariate and then there will be priests and lay people who will participate in the Ordinariate. There are already 40 priests ready to become Catholic but I think there will be many more once the Ordinariate will start.
Will the Anglican bishops be reordained as Catholic priests?
At the moment there are five Anglican bishops who have decided to become Catholics besides myself, Andrew Burnham, Keith Newton, Edwin Barnes and David Silk. They are all married and all hope to be reordained as priests, but it will be for the Vatican to decide who will be reordained. I hope that it is possible, and certainly for me it would be important, to be reordained as a priest. I hope to be able to exercise the normal pastoral duties of a priest: celebrating Mass and hearing confessions.
How do you think you will find life in the Catholic Church?
I think I will be fine. There are many Anglicans who have become Catholics. A few Sundays ago I went to Mass at a Catholic church in Dalston, near where I live, and there was a former Anglican priest who became a Catholic, and people whom I already knew.