Bishop-Designate Rob Munro

Posted on the 9th Dec 2022

Bishop Tony Robinson, Chairman of Forward in Faith, has welcomed the appointment of the Revd Dr Rob Munro as the successor to Bishop Rod Thomas in providing an episcopal ministry to conservative evangelical parishes across the Church of England. The appointment demonstrates the Church's continued commitment to mutual flourishing and a diversity of theological views among its bench of bishops.

Footnote: the Revd Dr Rob Munro will be the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, following changes to the Sees utilised to provide episcopal ministry under the House of Bishops' Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests. His predecessor, Rod Thomas, had been the Bishop of Maidstone. It has recently been announced that Fr Paul Thomas will be the Bishop of Oswestry. His predecessor, Jonathan Goodall, had been the Bishop of Ebbsfleet.


Statement on IICSA’s final report and the Seal of Confession

Posted on the 20th Oct 2022

We welcome the priority the Church of England has accorded in recent years to improving its record on safeguarding. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has produced its final report and it is clear that more needs to be done. We know that all those involved in the life of the Church will strive to meet the challenges arising.


There is one particular strand of the report which we must respond to immediately given its serious – and negative – implications for Church life and that is the recommendation that there should be a duty of disclosure for serious safeguarding matters. The duty would be without exception, thus breaching the Seal of Confession.


We are unaware of any evidence to suggest that the Seal of Confession has hampered progress on safeguarding in any way. Equally, we are unaware of any evidence to suggest that applying the duty of disclosure to Confession will lead to improvements in safeguarding.


Moreover, we feel deeply uneasy at a secular body seeking to impinge on the administration of the Church’s sacraments – of which Confession is one – which are at the core of its mission to the world, and which have been provided by God to His people as channels of His grace. The sacraments are preserved and administered by the Church and do not belong to us; they are therefore not ours to amend.


We now need to spend time studying the report in detail and consulting with ecumenical partners before responding further.



The Trustees of Forward in Faith

20 October 2022


Footnote: Paragraph 109 on page 230 of the IICSA final report is of particular concern to us and, no doubt, many others seeking to uphold the Church's received understanding of the nature of the sacrament of Confession.



Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, RIP

Posted on the 8th Sep 2022


The Society's Council of Bishops records its deep sadness at the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second. Her Majesty steadfastly witnessed to the Christian Faith for just over seventy years as monarch and administered the responsibilities as our nation's head of state dutifully and without complaint in that time. We are all poorer for Her Majesty's death and we offer our heartfelt prayers for the repose of Her Majesty's soul and for all those who mourn across this nation, the nations of the Commonwealth and indeed all the nations of the world. We ask that God will make his presence known to the Royal Family at this time of grieving.





The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Wakefield,

Chairman of The Society’s Council of Bishops


The Rt Revd Philip North, Bishop of Burnley


The Rt Revd Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester


The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham


The Rt Revd Will Hazlewood, Bishop of Lewes 


The Rt Revd Norman Banks, Bishop of Richborough


The 2022 National Assembly

Posted on the 28th Jun 2022

A report from the Director:


After a break for two and a half years caused by the pandemic, the Forward in Faith National Assembly was held on Saturday 28 May at the church of St Alban, Holborn. Given the discontinuity caused by the pandemic, the plethora of other events at this time of year and the cost-of-living pressures people face, the Assembly was pleasantly well attended and there was a joyful, Ascentiontide feeling to proceedings.


The day began with Mass at midday, and it was a delight to have as many as ten Society bishops, both serving and retired (or should I say semi-retired?), concelebrating the Mass of Our Lady of Walsingham to mark the Shrine’s centenary. The St Alban’s choir immediately provided the occasion with a sense of the uplifting through its wonderful rendition of Mozart’s Grosse-Credo Messe K257 and of Finzi’s striking anthem ‘God is gone up’.


Bishop Martin Warner preached a thought-provoking sermon which not only covered a lot of ground but also challenged us to think about art and beauty in a new way in the context of our church life together.


He began with a visit to the Roman Catholic Cathedral in the Bristol suburb of Clifton he made on a recent holiday, emphasising the starkness of that building, the space it provides for prayer and reflection, and the link in our minds it can provide to the Exile in Egypt through its austerity and tent-like structure. He went on to describe the remoteness of Walsingham and the role that plays in our life’s pilgrimage, before highlighting the transcendent beauty of the church of St Alban in which we were worshipping.


Bishop Martin left us to ponder some profounds words from St Basil on Our Lady being a ‘workshop’ of the practice of grace and tasked us with making our own churches just that – ‘workshops’ of salvation.


After a hearty lunch delegates returned to the church to undertake two formal items of business – the new constitutional arrangements were agreed and the accounts were received, both without any votes again. In terms of the former, the Chairman agreed that a working group should be established on what role the branches should play within the context of the new constitutional arrangements.


There were brief addresses from the Chairman and Director, thanking supporters of Forward in Faith for volunteering their time and providing financial support in what have been difficult times for all of us. The Chairman welcomed Stephen Parkinson and his wife Jo to the Assembly – Stephen is a former Director of Forward in Faith. Bishop Tony went on to praise the immense contribution of two departing trustees – Lindsay Dixon, Lay Vice Chairman, and Jonathan Prichard, Treasurer.


The Director informed delegates that the Forward in Faith office, but not the chaplaincy arrangements in the English Chapel and not the chaplain Fr Peter Hudson, would be moving from Gordon Square to St Andrew, Holborn in July of this year, benefitting from the co-location with the Bishop of Fulham’s office and guild church which the move will bring.


The keynote address was given by Fr David Houlding, parish priest of All Hallows, Gospel Oak and a leading figure in our movement’s efforts over the last 30 years to navigate a course which provides a Catholic life for us within the Church of England.


The address was both powerful and informative, as he chartered the ebbs and flows of the last 30 years, taking us through the heartbreak of the November 1992 vote, the response from SSC, the machinations of General Synod (including the Catholic Group), the Declaration under which we operate now and so much more. It was striking that some of our ordinands and younger clergy present had not even been born at the starting point of the address!


Fr Houlding concluded by imploring us to do two things, principally – one on a practical level and one on a higher plane. Our practical task is to make sure our Catholic societies – and the resources they hold – are working to build up The Society as best they can.


The second was to continue to be theological in our response to the ecclesiological challenges we face and to use that theological underpinning as a bedrock of our commitment to the Faith.


The business of the meeting ended with brief updates on Ladyewell House, the mission initiative, the vocations initiative, and the on-going work of refreshing New Directions.

On this centenary year of the Shrine, Fr Kevin Smith, the Priest Administrator at the Shrine, concluded the Assembly with a set of Marian prayers and the singing of the Salve Regina.


There are far too many people to thank by name for making the day such a success (they know who they are…) so I shall limit myself to mentioning Fr Christopher Smith, the parish priest of St Alban’s, for the use of his church and for all his support in the lead up to the day, and Louisa Thomas, the Forward in Faith Administrator, for organising the Assembly with such competence and good humour.


Next year’s gathering, the 2023 Annual General Meeting, will be open to all Forward in Faith members and so please look out for a ‘save the date’ message in an edition of New Directions later this year.


In the meantime, please pray for the work of Forward in Faith and of The Society and be assured of our prayers and support for all that you do in your parishes and elsewhere.


Texts, photographs and audio files are be available here.



Sir William Fittall RIP

Posted on the 11th Mar 2022

The Chairman of Forward in Faith has noted with great sadness the death of Sir William Fittall, formerly Secretary-General of the Archbishops' Council and of the General Synod and more recently the Church of England's Independent Reviewer. Bishop Tony Robinson commented: 'Sir William was always very fair in his dealings with our movement and played a pivotal role in devisng a settlement under which traditionalists felt able to remain in the Church of England. May he rest in peace."







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