This statement from Fr Neil Chatfield was given to the congregation at Christ Church, Eastbourne this morning:
I am announcing today that I will resign my living as Vicar of Christ Church on Palm Sunday, 17th April. As of tomorrow I intend to formally pursue membership of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
This decision has been one of the most difficult to make. It has been made all the harder by the thought of leaving behind this community that it has been a privilege to serve these near eleven years. The decision has not been motivated by the feeling that I am not wanted — far from it. In part it is due to the fact that it becomes harder, with any integrity, to lead an Anglican congregation in the Nicene Creed. This creed, which we say every Sunday, states that we believe in the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” I do not doubt your faith when you affirm this but the Church of England has all but rejected this belief in its recent decision-making.
Alongside this growing sense of unease at the direction of the Church of England came the offer of Pope Benedict, at the request of many Anglicans, in forming the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Through the long process of prayer and contemplation, there has been the strong, irresistible leading of the Holy Spirit. Whatever the difficulties, and there are many, in going and whatever the temptations, and there are many, in staying, I dare not resist the call of God.
The first consequence, in response to this call, is that having told you of my decision, at the insistence of Bishop John, I have to cease all public ministry from today. This is the last time I will be able to celebrate the mass with you all. I assure you that we as a family will always have you in our prayers and ask that you would keep us in yours as we seek to follow where God is leading us.
As the gospel reminds us today, we all need to make sure that our faith is built on The Rock otherwise when difficult times come we will not be able to stand.