14 Roman Catholic priests convert to the Church of England
Judging by the intense media focus on those Church of England clergy who are joining the Roman Catholic Church through the Ordinariate (eg here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here [and that’s not the half of it]), one might easily be persuaded that the traffic is all one way; that the path to salvation is Romeward; the Reformation reversed; and that all the ‘disaffected’ Anglican rats are leaving the ship, despite it not being holed beneath the waterline.
His Grace has commented on the phenomenon before (here), and on the Ordinariate (here and here), and has sent his sincere and best wishes to those who wish to join it. But Roman Catholic clergy were converting to the Church of England years before the Ordinariate was ever devised: movement has always been two-way, and ecumenical relations have probably been enhanced as a consequence.
So why the anti-Anglicanism (here, here, here and here)? Whenever have you read in the British MSM of Roman Catholic priests being received into the Church of England? When have you heard or read any reporting of the soteriological implications for Roman Catholic priests of swearing allegiance to the Supreme Governor, agreeing to abide by the XXXIX Articles or accepting the liturgical authority of the BCP?
It’s difficult to understand why this might be, unless coverage of the Ordinariate is being driven by a disproportionate number of Roman Catholic journalists who want to 'big-up' the event. Of course, there is a unquestionable difference in scale now that a couple of hundred members from a few parishes are converting en masse, but the media focus preceded this: it has been interminably conjectured upon day after day after day, and they seem to follow every converting vicar.
Because of the paywall, no links to The Times are possible. But if they were to report on the conversions from Rome to Canterbury, they would probably receive letters of complaint, or Ruth Gledhill would be accused of being ‘anti-Catholic’. Doubtless His Grace is a ‘bigot’ simply for raising the subject.
But the question of the complete media silence on this parliamentary question merits examination. One might expect biased, partisan or sectarian religion journalists not to write about it. But religion reporters are professionally obliged to inform us of the facts.
CHURCH COMMISSIONERSSo, while dozens of journalists count every single Anglican soul who ‘comes home’, undermining the Established Church by ensuring the drip, drip, drip of those who swim the Tiber is trumpeted loud and broadcast clear, let us remember that there is a steady stream swimming against the tide, and that not all candidates are centrally recorded, so the national figure is likely to be higher.
The hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked-
Former Roman Catholic Priests (Ordination)
6. Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): How many former Roman Catholic priests have sought ordination in the Church of England since 2005; and if he will make a statement.
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Tony Baldry): Figures held by the Archbishops Council show that in the past five years 14 former Roman Catholic priests have sought to be received into ordained ministry within the Church of England. As there is also discretion at diocesan level for acceptance into the ministry, not all candidates are centrally recorded, so the national figure is likely to be higher.
1 Mar 2011 : Column 163
Bob Russell: National newspapers suggest that there is a one-way road leading from Canterbury to Rome. I have no brief for the established Church-I come from good non-conformist stock-but does the hon. Gentleman agree that more should be done to make it clear to those Roman Catholic priests who are unhappy that there is a welcome for them in the Church of England?
Tony Baldry: I say to my hon. Friend that there is a welcome for everyone in the Church of England. He makes a good point; national newspapers give the impression that there is a one-way street for disaffected Church of England priests going to the Roman Catholic Church, but that is certainly not the case. There are very good ecumenical relations between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, as was demonstrated by Pope Benedict's recent visit to the UK. There is certainly two-way traffic, and long may that continue.
Is it that there are insufficient Anglican journalists or neutral reporters to inform us of this?
Or is it that the Church of England simply doesn’t crow about it, because such boasting is vain, conceited and deeply un-Christian?