This letter from Fr John Broadhurst appears in today’s Church Times:
Anglican Orders and their relinquishment
Sir, — I am surprised at the legal opinion on convert clergy (News, 28 January). To my certain knowledge, at least 471 priests (including ten bishops) have left the Church of England for the Roman Catholic Church since the late 1980s. Others have left for Orthodoxy or Traditional Anglicanism. Of all these, only 18 have relinquished their orders.
What many Anglicans claim to be offensive about the Ordinariate is the suggestion that those of us who take that path are denying our previous ministry. This is not required by the Roman Catholic Church, and I for one am happy to affirm the reality of all that I have done and been as a priest and bishop in the Church of England.
At my own ordination, Archbishop Nichols talked of our previous ministry as bishops in the Church of England. If the Synod lawyers are suggesting that we should renounce our ministry, this seems at variance with the feelings of most Anglicans, and my own.
As someone who chaired the revision committee on the previous Clergy Discipline Measure, I know how unworkable such Measures prove to be in practice. That said, the suggestion that clergy who left the Church of England, who would obviously be unlicensed, could in any way be subject to the present Measure is manifestly laughable.
Relinquishment of orders not only costs a substantial amount, but means that those who do so are entered on the Lambeth List along with those deprived or deposed for serious offences. I certainly have no intention of relinquishing my orders.
26 Canonbury Park South
London N1 2FN