Church Times: President of Church Union to quit over its exclusion of Ordinariate

5 08 2011

From the Church Times:

The President of the Church Union (CU), Fr Edwin Barnes, is to stand down because the majority of its Council opposes “assisting those who join the Ordinariate”. Last month, the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament (CBS) provoked anger among some of its members when it donated £1 million to the Roman Catholic Ordin­ariate (News, 8 July).

Fr Barnes, who joined the Ordin­ariate earlier this year, wrote in a statement posted on the website of the CU, which says that it seeks “to promote and renew Catholic Faith and life within the Church of England”, that the group received a legal opinion from a QC suggesting that, although the organisation’s Constitution had been altered to include those outside the Church of England, “the foundation docu­ments had not, and they trumped whatever the Constitution might intend.” The legal opinion “seemed to say this was a Society for Church of England members only”.

Fr Barnes said that he sought another legal opinion, which “arrived at a different conclusion”, and suggested that the CU “might indeed function ecumenically”.

“Since those opinions were received,” Fr Barnes wrote, “there has been an election, and it is quite clear to me now that even were I to con­tinue as President, the weight of opinion in the Councils of the Union would be against any notion of assisting those who have joined the Ordinariate. This has been achieved partly by refusing to accept  nom­inations of members of the Church Union who are already in the Ordinariate.”

Last month, the Friends of the Ordinariate was launched to raise funds for priests who have left the Church of England for the Ordin­ariate (News, 22 July). Mgr Keith Newton said that the Ordinariate would need “£1 million to keep going”. He said that, of the 59 Ordinariate clergy, there were 31 “who need support of one sort or another. . . Out of those 31, there are 12 who are married with dependent children, nine who are married without dependent children, and ten who are celibates.”