Forward in Faith welcomes reference to the Independent Reviewer

Posted on the 24th Mar 2017

Forward in Faith welcomes reference to the Independent Reviewer


Forward in Faith welcomes today’s statement from the Archbishops that they have asked the Independent Reviewer, Sir Philip Mawer, to address the concerns that have arisen in the Church following recent events relating to the See of Sheffield.


We are grateful for their formal statement that, as Archbishops, Primates and Metropolitans, they reaffirm their commitment, and that of the House of Bishops, to its Declaration and to the Five Guiding Principles.


We stand ready to engage with Sir Philip as he reviews the operation of the Declaration in respect of what was done over the last two years to inform and educate clergy and laity about the 2014 settlement, and also in respect of the recent nomination to the See of Sheffield and reactions to it. We trust that his report will correct the misrepresentation of the Declaration and of the Five Guiding Principles that has occurred.


The Archbishops’ call to pray openly for those with whom we disagree, and to demonstrate the mutual love which we are called to share, is something that all should take to heart.



The Rt Revd Tony Robinson



Forward in Faith's information about the House of Bishops' Declaration and the Five Guiding Principles, first published in January 2015, is available here.


The See of Sheffield - Update

Posted on the 16th Mar 2017

The See of Sheffield – Update


The predominant responses to last week’s news regarding the See of Sheffield have been dismay at the nature of the campaign that was mounted against the outcome of the Church’s process for discerning God’s call to the See of Sheffield, and sorrow at the result of that campaign.


We are encouraged that so many – women and men; bishops, clergy and laity; liberals, evangelicals and catholics – have gone further, pointing out that, as the Archbishop of York said in his statement, what has happened "clearly does not reflect" the 2014 settlement that paved the way for women to be ordained as bishops while securing an honoured place within the Church of England for those who, for theological reasons, are unable to receive their sacramental ministry. This strong and widespread affirmation of the 2014 settlement gives us hope that, in the providence of God, some good may yet come out of an awful situation.


In his statement, Archbishop Sentamu stressed that when we disagree, we should "disagree Christianly, remembering at all times that our identity is in Christ alone". The response of the clergy and people of The Society in the Diocese of Sheffield to the provocation they have experienced has been exemplary. We wish to assure them of our full support at this difficult time. We are grateful to all of the bishops of The Society for their ministry in building up those of their clergy and people across the Church of England for whom this has been a bitter blow.


The need now is to build on the growing consensus in support of the Five Guiding Principles. The statements made by Archbishop Sentamu and a number of other diocesan bishops are very helpful indeed. In due course they will need to be accompanied by action 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. The Executive Committee of Forward in Faith has begun to consider what actions need to be taken, and by whom. We are engaged in discussions with others and will report further as plans develop.


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.” 







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