Five Anglican bishops switch to Catholic church
Five Church of England bishops are to convert to Catholicism under an offer from Pope Benedict XVI to welcome Anglicans disaffected by moves to ordinate women, the Catholic Church said Monday.
The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales said it welcomed the decision by the three serving Anglican bishops and two retired bishops "to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church".
The bishops are Andrew Burnham, Keith Newton, John Broadhurst, Edwin Barnes, and David Silk, it said in a statement.
Their conversions come less than two months after the pope visited Britain.
In 2009, the Roman Catholic Church unveiled a new juridical framework that made it easier for Anglicans unhappy with the Church of England's ordination of female and homosexual clergy to join Catholic ranks.
In a statement, the five bishops said they had been "dismayed, over the last 30 years, to see Anglicans and Catholics move further apart on some of the issues of the day".
They said the Vatican offer was a "generous response to various approaches to the Holy See for help and a bold, new ecumenical instrument in the search for the unity of Christians."
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the world's Anglicans, said in a statement he had accepted the resignations of Burnham and Newton "with regret".
"We wish them well in this next stage of their service to the Church and I am grateful to them for their faithful and devoted pastoral labours in the Church of England over many years," he said.
Williams referred only to Burnham and Newton because they are so-called "flying bishops" who came directly under the authority of the Anglican region of Canterbury.
They ministered to Church of England parishes where congregations had voted not to allow a woman priest to preside at services.
Barnes previously held the same role as Newton while Silk was the former Bishop of Ballarat in Australia.
Broadhurst, the Bishop of Fulham, had already announced his intention to convert last month after accusing the Church of England of acting in a "fascist" manner.
© 2010 AFP