The See of Sheffield

Posted on the 9th Mar 2017

Forward in Faith wishes to echo all that the bishops of The Society have said in their statement following the announcement of Bishop Philip North's decision to withdraw acceptance of his nomination to the See of Sheffield.

We are grateful to those of different views from our own, including many female clergy, who have publicly expressed support for his nomination and for the Five Guiding Principles and the House of Bishops' Declaration. In particular, we wish to express our gratitude to those female bishops who have honourably defended the settlement that was agreed in 2014. As they have emphasized, the continued possibility of traditional catholics being chosen as diocesan bishops was an integral part of that settlement: the House of Bishops' Declaration imposes no stained-glass ceiling on mutual flourishing.

In the coming weeks, we shall be considering what action now needs to be taken – and by whom – to restore confidence in the House of Bishops' Declaration, and to correct definitively the false statements that have been made about the Declaration, the Five Guiding Principles, and the beliefs of traditional catholics. We hope that this can be done in partnership with those who bear responsibility for the Church of England at national level.


We envisage making a further statement in due course.



The Rt Revd Tony Robinson




Dr Lindsay Newcombe

Lay Vice-Chairman



The Revd Ross Northing SSC

Clerical Vice Chairman


The Archbishop of York's statement is published here.


Independent Reviewer addresses Forward in Faith National Assembly

Posted on the 22nd Nov 2016

The Independent Reviewer appointed in relation to the House of Bishops' Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, Sir Philip Mawer, addressed the Forward in Faith National Assembly, held at St Alban's, Holborn, on Saturday 19 November 2016. He commented, 'What the House of Bishops with the endorsement of the General Synod has done in enunciating the Five Principles and establishing a framework of procedures to underpin them is a brave and worthy attempt to model a way for Christians to live with their differences.'

Preaching at the Eucharist, the Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Revd Dr Martin Warner, reminded the Assembly that 'Scripture provides us with the contours of divine revelation that issue first in worship, but that incite us also to an ethical foundation of moral life' and that 'the drama of liturgical worship is one of the great acts of our witness on earth to the reality of heaven'.


Mrs Anne Gray, Projects Officer to the Council of Bishops of The Society, shared her reflections on the process of passing resolutions under the House of Bishops' Declaration, which has resulted in a 12% increase in the number of parishes under the oversight of bishops of The Society.


The Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North, introduced a consultation exercise on priorities for the future of catholic life in the Church of England, under six headings: Forming all the baptized in Christ, Making young disciples, Offering worship that transforms, Celebrating sacramental priesthood, Being intentional in evangelism, Serving the common good.


Fr Darren Smith reported on the Catholic Societies' 'Here I Am' vocations initative, Fr Edward Martin and Fr Paul Noble presented the Bishop of Richborough's annual Initial Ministerial Education session, held at Walsingham.


Fourteen members were elected to the Council of Forward in Faith, five of the eight laypeople elected being women. Nine former members of the Council having not stood for re-election, 25% of the Council members are new. The full list of Council members is published here. The motion ‘That this Assembly express its gratitude to the retiring members of the Council for their service to Forward in Faith and the Catholic Movement over many years', moved by Fr David Houlding, was passed unanimously.


Photographs, texts and sound recordings of the Assembly are published on the Forward in Faith website here.


Election of the next Bishop of St Davids

Posted on the 4th Nov 2016

Credo Cymru has issued a statement following the election of Canon Joanna Penberthy as the next Bishop of St Davids. It is published on the Credo Cymru website and is reproduced below.


We assure our brothers and sisters in the Church in Wales of our support and our prayers.


A statement by Credo Cymru in relation to

the election of Canon Joanna Penberthy to the see of St Davids

On November 2nd the electoral college of the Church in Wales provided a sufficient majority to elect, for the first time, a woman to be the Ordinary of the diocese of St Davids. In the diocese Welsh culture, language and faith have been deeply intertwined since the days of St David himself and Canon Penberthy has ministered there for many years as an incumbent. We assure her of our prayers as she prepares to undertake the considerable responsibilities of her new office and we recognise too the various skills and experiences she will bring to it. In wishing her well we must, however, point out that her election does underline a particular and pressing need.


Over the last twenty years, assurance has been given publicly and repeatedly by those in authority in the Church in Wales that there is a place for those church people who on grounds of theological conviction and conscience remain unable to recognise the sacramental ministry of women as bishops and priests. Such assurance was repeated in the legislation passed by the Governing Body to permit women to be consecrated as bishops; such Christians remain “within the spectrum of teaching and tradition within the Anglican Communion”. Accordingly we believe that the election of Canon Penberthy makes it a pressing necessity that a male bishop in the apostolic succession with whom we may enjoy full communion be enabled to minister sacramentally and pastorally to such Anglicans in the diocese of St Davids. Thereby additional episcopal care would be provided in the new situation that has been created by the electoral college and action taken to ensure that the “highest possible degree of communion” may indeed lead to “mutual flourishing across the whole Church in Wales.” 


Over 400 Parishes under Catholic Bishops

Posted on the 21st Oct 2016

Over 400 parishes have so far passed a resolution under the House of Bishops' Declaration to bring them under the oversight of a bishop of The Society. (In addition, other parishes have passed a resolution that brings them under the oversight of the Bishop of Maidstone.)


According to official figures (Statistics for Mission 2012: Ministry), at the beginning of 2013 there were 368 parishes with a petition under the former Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod in force. The replacement of the Act of Synod with the House of Bishops' Declaration has thus resulted in a significant increase in the number of parishes under the oversight of one of the Church of England's catholic bishops. 


A number of other parishes with a petition under the Act of Synod still in force have yet to vote on the new resolution. The total is expected to rise further before 17 November, when any remaining Act of Synod petitions will lapse. (Parishes can of course pass new resolutions under the House of Bishops' Declaration after that date.)


The Chairman of the Council of Bishops of The Society, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson (Bishop of Wakefield), said, 'I am delighted that so many parishes have voted for a ministry that all can receive, and the oversight of a bishop with whom all will be in full communion. This gives us a firm basis for mission and growth, and for flourishing within the life and structures of the Church of England.'


Living with Diversity: Bishop of Gloucester addresses Credo Cymru Conference

Posted on the 23rd Sep 2016

Credo Cymru has issued the following media release.


At a conference organized by Credo Cymru, the body representing traditionalist beliefs in the Church in Wales, the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, has spoken about living with diversity over women’s ordination. ‘Key to my experience of living the English diversity in a healthy way’ she said, ‘has been a commitment to intentional relationship and mutual flourishing, and a willingness to live with hopeful imagination.’


The conference, ‘That Nothing Be Lost: A Conference to Preserve the Breadth of Welsh Anglicanism’, was held in Cardiff on 21-22 September and attended by the Archbishop of Wales. It was characterized by diversity: the 34 participants (27 from Wales, 7 from England) included women ordained to all three orders, bishops and priests representing a range of views on women’s ordination, and lay members (predominantly female) of Credo Cymru.


The conversations were characterized by openness, honesty and listening, and a relaxed atmosphere. Both ordained women and traditionalists spoke of a new feeling of affirmation from those with whom they disagreed.


In opening presentations, the Ven. Dr Will Strange (Archdeacon of Ceredigion and Vice-Chair of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales) spoke of the ‘silencing of the catholic voice’. Canon Joanna Penberthy called for ‘a conversation about how we work together’ but noted the significance of a cultural context opposed to discrimination. Fr Ben Rabjohns hoped not for comfort, or to be able to ignore the decision to ordain women as bishops, but – as a 30-year-old incumbent – for the security and certainty of a long-term future that were essential for traditionalists to be able to flourish. As a priest, he needed episcopal ministry that involved a continuing relationship, not just occasional episcopal acts.


In his keynote address, the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, asked ‘hard questions’. Did the Church in Wales really mean what it said in the canon enabling women to be bishops – that traditionalists should be given ‘a sense of security in their accepted and valued place within the Church in Wales’? Did traditionalists really want to be in communion with the Bench of Bishops? He thought it ‘very, very unlikely’ that the Church in Wales would establish any form of supplemental episcopal ministry, but recognized that traditionalists needed a corporate life. He encouraged them to explore ‘double belonging’: loyal both to the fellowship of their diocese (with canonical obedience to the diocesan bishop) and to their own (non-political) fellowship (with ‘affective loyalty’ to a bishop, whose friendship, trust and relationships with the Bench of Bishops would be crucial).


Participants expressed commitment to continuing and extending the conversation in the dioceses and at the provincial level, possibly with facilitation. Building trust and reconciliation would require honesty (not least about past wounds on both sides), a willingness to listen, and a mutually gracious and affirming spirit. Existing friendships and our relationship within the Body of Christ would shape the context. The diversity of the Church in Wales was something to be valued.


The Chairman of Credo Cymru, Canon Jeffrey Gainer, said, ‘This was an opportunity for heart to speak to heart with integrity and charity. We are grateful to those of different views for their courage and generosity in coming to talk with us. I hope that the conversation will continue, drawing in others, and begin to transform our situation in the Church in Wales.’


Papers from the conference may be found at







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