Mass Exodus from the C of E to Rome?
The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, is to lead his fellow Anglo-Catholics from the Church of England into the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic Herald will reveal this week.
Bishop Burnham, one of two "flying bishops" in the province of Canterbury, has made a statement asking Pope Benedict XVI and the English Catholic bishops for "magnanimous gestures" that will allow traditionalists to become Catholics en masse.
He is confident that this will happen, following talks in Rome with Cardinal Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Kasper, the Vatican's head of ecumenism. He was accompanied on his visit by the Rt Rev Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough, the other Canterbury "flying bishop", who is expected to follow his example.
Bishop Burnham hopes that Rome will offer special arrangements whereby former Anglicans can stay worshipping in parishes under the guidance of a Catholic bishop. Most of these parishes already use the Roman liturgy, but there may be provision for Anglican prayers if churches request it.
Anglican priests who are already married will not be barred from ordination as priests, though Bishop Burnham would not be able to continue in episcopal orders, as he is married and there is an absolute bar on married bishops in the Roman and Orthodox Churches.
UPDATE: Today there are remarks from Bishop Edwin Barnes of The Church Union that make reference to possible help from "our friends in the Roman Communion." Hat tip to Antonio.
FURTHER UPDATE: Bishop Broadhurst of Forward in Faith--UK seems not quite as ready to trot out the "R word." He seems to be urging careful deliberation and no precipitous action. "[N]ow is not quite yet the time for ... drastic gestures, for whatever we do needs its timing to be agreed by us all so that we can act together. Be assured of my commitment to our common life and of my determination to continue to seek a common way forward in faith for all of us."