Sevenoaks Chronicle: Priests explain why they want to be Catholic

26 02 2011

This article by Amy Andrew from the Sevenoaks Chronicle has been pubished on This is Kent:

Two Anglican priests [ed – Fr James Bradley is a deacon] who believe their church is “moving away from traditions” have become Roman Catholics.

Father Ivan Aquilina and Father James Bradley, of the Church of St John the Baptist, Quakers Hall Lane, Sevenoaks, explain how it affects them and parishioners.

What made you move to the Roman Catholic community?

Father James: Since at least the 1800s there have been Anglicans who have worked to bring about unity between the Church of England and Rome. That has always been the goal of parishes like St John’s. Recent decisions in the Church of England and wider Anglican Communion mean that church-level unity is now a very distant prospect.

Was it a difficult decision to make?

Father James: Of course. The Church of England has been a good home, despite everything. To walk away from that is hard.

What does this mean for your parishioners?

Father Ivan: It is an opportunity to think about what they do and why. It is a challenge for them as it is for me; a positive challenge. Some will be joining Father James and I in this journey, others will remain at St John’s. Each group will be enriched as they reflect deeper into what it means to be a Catholic or Anglican.

Was there much opposition from parishioners?

Father James: No. We have been humbled by the support and love of our congregation. All have been supportive; they know we wouldn’t take this decision lightly.

Has anyone decided to leave the church as a result?

Father Ivan: No.

What is it specifically about women bishops that you don’t agree with?

Father Ivan: The admission of women into the Anglican episcopate is just one of many issues. The real question is faithfulness to the will of God in Jesus. Jesus did not choose women into the apostolic college, therefore we are not at liberty to do that, however it might puzzle us.

What is it that appeals to you about the Catholic Church?

Father James: Coming into communion with almost 2.5 billion people is exhilarating. It is the fulfilment of a dream.

How has the decision received by other churches in Sevenoaks?

Father James: We’ve received a lot of support from other Christians in and around Sevenoaks, not least from the Diocese of Rochester. I think everyone realises that this is an historic moment in the life of the church.

When does it take effect?

Father Ivan: For Father James and I the last “Anglican” Sunday is on the March 6 at the 10am Mass. From the following Wednesday we will start attending St Thomas’. By Easter we will be full members of the Catholic Church.

How will it work?

After Ash Wednesday, parishioners who have decided to leave St John’s will attend services at St Thomas’s – they will be part of the congregation but will remain a distinct group.

Father James and Father Ivan will be ordained after Easter, and the future organisation of services will be decided then.