BBC: Dissident Anglicans leave the Church of England

9 03 2011

From the BBC News website:

Around 600 Anglicans are officially leaving the Church of England in protest at the decision to ordain women as bishops. They will be enrolled as candidates to join a new branch of the Catholic Church – the Ordinariate – which has been specially created for them. They will attend Catholic Mass marking Ash Wednesday before spending Lent preparing to convert.

The Ordinariate is led by three former Anglican bishops. Those leaving the Church of England are unhappy about developments in Anglicanism that they claim have led it away from traditions historically shared with Roman Catholics.

‘Goalposts shifted’

Their dismay is focused on the decision to ordain women as bishops and it is known that more Anglicans may follow their lead. The Reverend Ed Tomlinson, who has stood down as a parish priest in Tunbridge Wells, said the Anglican Church had been “shifting the goalposts”. “We couldn’t continue to be Christians in a normal sense when we were in a maverick Church that kept changing the rules to appease the common culture,” he said.

He said changes to the rules on divorce and family had produced a “political Church where people campaign for things”.

After their preparation, the converts will become Catholics just before Easter and will then join the Ordinariate, which was set up by Pope Benedict specifically for former Anglicans. It is led by three former Anglican bishops – Andrew Burnham, Keith Newton and John Broadhurst – who themselves converted earlier this year.

The Ordinariate will be funded initially by donations but its priests will not receive a salary, as they did in the Anglican Church. The numbers represent only a tiny proportion of the Church of England’s clergy and membership, and are smaller than earlier estimates.

Church of England spokesman Steve Jenkins said that “movement between Churches is like a spaghetti junction”. He said that official figures showed 14 Roman Catholic priests had converted to the Church of England in the past five years.

However, other clergy on the traditionalist Catholic wing of the Church of England say they are waiting to see what provisions the Church makes to allow them to escape oversight by women bishops in the future before making their decision.