EMAIL NEWS ALERTS
Dr Geoffrey Kirk RIP
Posted on the 10th Apr 2020
The trustees of Forward in Faith are greatly saddened to hear the news of Dr Geoffrey Kirk's death earlier today.
In the period since the Church of England's General Synod approved measures for the ordination of women to the priesthood in 1992, Geoffrey played a pivotal role in establishing and sustaining Forward in Faith for almost 20 years, including acting as its National Secretary.
We are greatly indebted to Geoffrey for all he did and a full obituary will appear in the May edition of New Directions.
May Geoffrey rest in peace.
Current Closure of Churches
Posted on the 2nd Apr 2020
Forward in Faith strongly supports the Church and the civil authorities in doing all they can to limit the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on our nation, particularly by us all following the advice of stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.
Forward in Faith also welcomes the diverse range of liturgical resources being made available on-line from across the entire spectrum of belief in the Church of England, echoing the call from Archbishops of Canterbury and of York for us to be rooted in prayer.
In this spirit of public safety and prayer, the trustees of Forward in Faith would like to draw the attention of its membership, and others, to an article written by Fr Edward Dowler, Archdeacon of Hastings, for the Church Times on the current closure of churches.
The analysis and overarching message set out in Fr Dowler’s article mirror the views of many supporters of Forward in Faith and, indeed, of many others who are concerned about making provision for all who habitually worship in church or who look to their parish church as a place of spiritual nourishment and safety in times of trouble.
We, as trustees of Forward in Faith, ask that the article is given careful attention at all levels in the Church of England. We recommend that the article is read in conjunction with the paper from the London College of Bishops on 'The Eucharist in a time of Physical Distancing', which affirms our understanding of the sacraments at this testing time.
We also ask that the Archbishops and Bishops consider in the coming days what provision can be made, as a first step, for clergy to preside over liturgies in their churches during the forthcoming Holy Week and Easter period, while of course remaining in full compliance with the legislation and public health advice currently in place.
Forward in Faith's 2019 National Assembly
Posted on the 20th Nov 2019
The church of St Alban the Martyr, London, was filled to capacity on Saturday 16 November for Forward in Faith’s National Assembly.
Addressing the Assembly, the Rt Revd Robert Byrne (Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, and Roman Catholic Co-Chairman of English ARC) underlined the importance of Forward in Faith for the growing together of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, in view of Forward in Faith’s mission ‘to witness in the Church of England to its apostolic faith based on the Creeds and the Fathers and to promote and maintain catholic teaching and practice within it’.
Bishop Byrne’s speech was interrupted with applause when he reminded the Assembly of the Archbishop of Westminster’s statement that any priest would rather die than in any way break the Seal of the Confessional. ‘The Roman Catholic Church will never change its stance on that’, he promised: ‘We can help you by giving that witness.’ The Church of England in turn could help the Roman Catholic Church, he suggested, by maintaining the Seal in its canon law (which forms part of English law).
Reporting from the See of Beverley, Fr Graham Hollowood highlighted the meetings, over more than twenty years, between the Forward in Faith and Women’s Chapters in the Diocese of Manchester. Fr Paul Kennedy spoke of the joys and challenges of ministry in the catholic parishes of the Diocese of Durham. He also praised the Bread for the World conference – a celebration of eucharistic life held in August by the Bishops of Beverley, Burnley and Wakefield. Both priests emphasized the importance of catholics engaging in the life and structures of their dioceses.
Fr Edward Martin and Fr Paul Noble reported on events in the life of the See of Richborough. A total of over 1,000 laypeople had attended regional celebrations in Leicester, Rochester and St Albans Cathedrals. In 2018 the Bishop of Richborough had visited each of the then eight catholic resolution benefices in the Diocese of Lincoln (there are now nine), conducting seven confirmations. By the end of 2019 he would have celebrated 44 confirmations this year (whereas in some dioceses three or four bishops conduct only 15-18 confirmations in total).
The Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, explained that his See covers 50 parishes in the Diocese of London (just under 12.5% of the Diocese’s parishes) and 14 in the Diocese of Southwark. In the Diocese of Southwark he operated ‘like a Provincial Episcopal Visitor’, whereas the ‘London Plan’ (‘a flagship template for operating the Five Guiding Principles’) gave him ‘more hefty jurisdiction’ over his London parishes. His Chaplain, Fr James Wilkinson, reported that the Fulham Vocations Group currently includes ten candidates in training, two in process of discernment with the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, three in discernment with Fr Richard Bastable (the Fulham Vocations Adviser), and a further three just coming into the system – together with the six deacons whom Bishop Jonathan hopes to ordain to the priesthood in 2020. Bishop Jonathan’s Mission Adviser, Fr Philip Barnes, reported on the Fulham Lay Congress, four teaching days on Christian discipleship, and a day focusing on practical tools for mission.
Other business included reports by the Officers of Forward in Faith (the Bishop of Wakefield, Dr Lindsay Newcombe and Mr Jonathan Prichard) and the Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod (Fr Paul Benfield), and presentations by the Communications Officers of The Society (Fr Robert Hart) and the Church Union (Fr Adam Edwards).
The Assembly said farewell to Dr Colin Podmore, who is to retire in February after seven years as Director of Forward in Faith. The Rt Revd Tony Robinson (Bishop of Wakefield), Chairman of Forward in Faith, paid tribute to the part that Dr Podmore had played in establishing The Society and to his work as Secretary to its Council of Bishops: ‘Colin has given confidence to our movement that there will still be a place for us within the Church of England... He has deployed his great powers of organization to ensure that effective new support structures for traditionalist clergy and parishes have been put firmly in place.' At the same time, he had continued to show 'a commitment that is not just confined to our constituency but really does extend to the welfare of the whole of the Church of England.’
Responding, Dr Podmore stressed that the work of taking Forward in Faith into a new era had been ‘a team effort, involving staff colleagues, trustees, Council members, bishops and a few key individuals beyond those circles as well’. He expressed his thanks to Forward in Faith’s members and called on them to ‘guard the unity of our movement’. Much of the work in respect of structures and politics had been done, he added: ‘What is essential now is that we use the opportunities we have won, and been given, in order to bring people to Christ, and build up Christ’s Church in our parishes.’
Texts, photographs and audio files from the Assembly are being published here.
New Director of Forward in Faith
Posted on the 28th Oct 2019
Forward in Faith is delighted to announce the appointment of Tom Middleton as Director. He will succeed Dr Colin Podmore, who is to retire in February after seven years in office.
As the Greater London Authority’s Assistant Director of Finance and Governance, Tom Middleton currently leads a team of 35 people at London’s City Hall, where he has worked for the last 18 years. He was previously on the staff of the Audit Commission and the National Audit Office. He holds a degree in theology from Durham University and a postgraduate diploma in public finance and leadership from Warwick University, and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Administration (CIPFA).
Tom worships at St Silas, Kentish Town. He is Treasurer of the Society of Mary and has recently been appointed as Clerk to the Trustees of the Cleaver Ordination Candidates Fund.
The Chairman of Forward in Faith, Bishop Tony Robinson, commented: ‘I am delighted that Tom Middleton has agreed to be our next Director. He comes to us after a distinguished career working in finance and governance. He will bring a wide range of skills which will help us develop even further over the coming years. I look forward to the next chapter in Forward in Faith’s task of strengthening the place of The Society within the Church of England.’
Tom Middleton said, ‘I am greatly honoured to be taking up this role. I look forward to meeting as many of my fellow members of Forward in Faith as I can and to working with the trustees, Council members and branch officers. I shall do my utmost to continue the sterling work of Forward in Faith and its current Director in promoting the Catholic faith as we have received it in the Church of England.’
Defending the Seal of the Confessional
Posted on the 4th Jul 2019
Forward in Faith thanks Pope Francis for his recent re-affirmation of the absolute inviolability of the Seal of the Confessional. Pope Francis said:
'Reconciliation itself is a benefit that the wisdom of the Church has always safeguarded with all her moral and legal might, with the sacramental seal. Although it is not always understood by the modern mentality, it is indispensable for the sanctity of the sacrament and for the freedom of conscience of the penitent, who must be certain, at any time, that the sacramental conversation will remain within the secrecy of the confessional, between one’s conscience that opens to grace, and God, with the necessary mediation of the priest. The sacramental seal is indispensable and no human power has jurisdiction over it, nor can lay any claim to it.'
We welcome the ‘Note on the importance of the internal forum and the inviolability of the Sacramental Seal’, approved by Pope Francis and published this week, which says that any political or legislative pressure to override this sacramental seal would be ‘a violation of religious freedom’.
The sacrament of Reconciliation can only be the safe space that it must be – not least for the victims and survivors of abuse – if all who avail themselves of it can be confident that what is disclosed in sacramental confession will never be revealed by the priest (thought they remain entirely free to disclose it themselves if and when they feel ready to do so).
Forward in Faith remains committed to defending the Seal. We also support better training for priests for this important ministry of the Church.