Discerning Vocations: a task for the whole Church

Posted on the 15th Jun 2013

One of the remarkable developments of recent years has been the growth in the number of men who stand firmly in the catholic tradition whom God is calling to the priesthood in the Church of England and who have responded in faith to that call. The number in formation at St Stephens House and the number who will be beginning their studies there this autumn are very encouraging. This is a sign of hope for our future. A high proportion of them are young men who can offer up to forty years of service or even more.


But although this growth is encouraging, it is not enough. We need more priests than we have, yet the number who will retire in the coming years means that we shall have even fewer unless an even larger number respond to Gods call.


Vocation involves a double call  an internal calling discerned by the individual, but also a calling through the Church. This means that Vocations are the concern of the whole Church and not just of the individuals concerned. We all need to think and pray about who in our parishes might be called by God to ministry in his Church.


The next Vocations Conference will be held at St Stephens House from 30 August to 1 September. Forward in Faith calls on its clergy and people in each parish to consider prayerfully whether there is someone in their midst whom God might be calling to the priesthood, and who should be encouraged to attend the Vocations Conference in order to explore this. Further details may be found at



In calling young men to the priesthood, God assures us that he has a future for us. But it is also true that if there is no response to that vocation, we shall have no future. Please play your part in the process of discernment, by encouraging those who may have a vocation to come to the conference and find out more.


New Director commissioned to co-ordinate Forward in Faith as 'catalyst for unity and continuity'

Posted on the 16th Apr 2013

We are not called to be another pressure group, says Bishop of Fulham


More than 300 people witnessed the commissioning of Dr Colin Podmore as Director of Forward in Faith tonight, as the former Clerk of the General Synod pledged to 'work for the unity of the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ and for its mission in the world'.


Members of the organization were joined by former and current members of the General Synod and staff of the National Church Institutions, reflecting what Dr Podmore described as 'the breadth of the Church of England, and our commitment to the 'mutual flourishing' of its diverse traditions'.


Twelve Anglo-Catholic bishops and over 40 representative priests concelebrated the mass at a packed St Alban's Holborn, in a liturgy drawn from Common Worship and sung to the setting 'Collegium Regale' by Herbert Howells.


During the service, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham and Chairman of Forward in Faith, promised that the charity would 'continue to speak the truth in love about those issues which exercise us, because of their impact, as we see it, on the unity and apostolicity of the Church'.


Encouraging those who take a different view on the issues of the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate to hear the organisation's message 'with an equal love', Bishop Jonathan's sermon lamented the 'tragedy' that the Church of England should have come to this: that faithful Anglicans who are inspired by convictions which the whole of the Church still affirms in her title deeds and carries in her DNA should be perceived by some as disloyal, a fifth column perhaps.'


But he acknowledged that 'no doubt blame' can be distributed across the whole Body [of the Church]', encouraging members of Forward in Faith to 'never give anyone the excuse to suggest that we are simply another churchy pressure group'. The challenge, he said, was to 'keep going joyfully, and to keep on in love', on what was, admittedly, a 'rocky path'. But the promise of Scripture was that the vision of 'one body, one Spirit, one faith, one baptism' has already been fulfilled. Forward in Faith's task, he suggested, was to ensure that truth was not obscured.


Bishop Jonathan reminded the packed church that the 'minority position' many of the congregation shared is, paradoxically, one 'deeply committed to the widest, most inclusive vision of unity and catholicity, that the world may believe and come to Christ.'


Dr Podmore began work at Forward in Faith, which has thousands of members across the Church of England's dioceses, after Easter. He joined following almost twenty-five years on the staff of the Archbishops' Council at Church House, Westminster, during which time he variously led the secretariats handling the Church of England's ecumenical relations; its liturgy; and the business of the General Synod.

Click here to read the Bishop of Fulham's sermon


STATEMENT from The Catholic Group in the General Synod of the Church of England

Posted on the 15th Mar 2013

The Catholic Group in the General Synod of the Church of England  welcomes with joy the election of Pope Francis.


His Holiness can be assured of our prayers as he starts this new phase of his ministry and as we all seek the unity of the Christian Church across our world.


Summary of response to Women in the episcopate: a new way forward

Posted on the 6th Mar 2013

The Catholic Group in General Synod

Summary of Response to GS MISC 1042

Women in the episcopate: a new way forward

  1. We agree that the Church of England needs to give 'the highest priority to finding a solution which will enable legislation to be approved by Synod on the fastest possible timetable.'  (GS Misc 1042, para. 12)  We remain committed to doing all that we can to facilitate the safe and speedy passage of fresh legislation through the Synod;  to this end, broad agreement will be needed on proposals before the formal legislative process begins. 
  2. We would agree with the first and fourth propositions in GS Misc 1042
     that it 'would not be sensible to try to take the rejected draft Measure as a starting point and tweak it.' (ibid. para. 18);
     'that there needs, so far as possible, to be a complete package of proposals that can be assessed in its entirety before final approval, without the possibility of further amendments to some parts of it between the final approval of the legislation and its coming into force.  (ibid. para. 24)
  3. The second proposition that 'any new approach should not seek to reopen questions around jurisdiction and the position of the diocesan bishop, in law, as the ordinary and chief pastor of everyone in the diocese.' (ibid. para. 20) needs further consideration, because at different times, the majority of the Revision Committee, the Archbishops and the majority of the Synod all supported proposals for a limited transfer of jurisdiction.  Such proposals would have applied to all diocesan bishops, male and female, thus ensuring that all diocesan bishops would have had 'exactly the same powers and responsibilities' (ibid. para. 22)
  4. The fourth proposition has two objectives, to:
     Produce a shorter, simpler measure than the one that was defeated;
     Provide, through the totality of the elements in the package, a greater sense of security for the minority as having an accepted and valued place in the Church of England while not involving the majority in any new element of compromise on matters of principle. (ibid. para. 28)
    We would generally agree with the first part of this proposition: the failed legislative package was just too complex, involving a lengthy Measure, an even lengthier Code of Practice, and then each Diocese would have had to write its scheme as well.  Our response to the second part would be qualified by the need for further consideration of the second proposition.
  5. It is very difficult to see how a single-clause Measure, or any other draft legislation which made less adequate or less secure provision than the failed Measure, could attract sufficient support to pass at Final Approval in Synod.
  6. We would want to see an inclusion in the Canons of the Lambeth Conference Resolution to the effect that both those who support the ordination of women, and those who do not, are loyal Anglicans.  We recognise that being loyal Anglicans involves responsibilities as well as entitlements.
  7. Similarly, we would want to see the incorporation into the Canons of a statement that 'discernment in the wider Church of the rightness or otherwise of the Church of Englands decision to ordain women to the priesthood should be as open a process as possible'  (Act of Synod, clause (3)(a)(i))  Such a statement would be an important recognition of our belief that the Orders of the Church of England are Orders of the Universal Church of God.

The full submission can be found at :  www.catholicgroup.org


The New Bishop of Blackburn

Posted on the 1st Mar 2013

We send our good wishes to the Ven. Julian Henderson on his appointment as the next Bishop of Blackburn, and assure him of our prayers as he prepares for this new ministry.


Catholic Anglicans have reason to be grateful to Archdeacon Henderson, as one of those members of the Synod who voted against the Women Bishops Measure despite their own support for the principle.


We welcome his commitment to ensuring that there is an honoured place for both positions on the ordination of women within the mainstream of the Church of England. Like him, we hope that Blackburn might continue to be a model for the rest of the Church of England in this regard, as it has been under his predecessor. Whether that can be so will depend to a significant extent on whether both views continue to be represented among the dioceses bishops.





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