Friday, 25 February 2011

Fr John Broadhurst: "I certainly have no intention of relinquishing my orders"

Thank to the Ordinariate Portal for this:

This letter from Fr John Broadhurst appears in today’s Church Times:

Anglican Orders and their relinquishment

Sir, — I am surprised at the legal opinion on convert clergy (News, 28 January). To my certain knowledge, at least 471 priests (including ten bishops) have left the Church of England for the Roman Catholic Church since the late 1980s. Others have left for Orthodoxy or Traditional Anglicanism. Of all these, only 18 have relinquished their orders.
What many Anglicans claim to be offensive about the Ordinariate is the suggestion that those of us who take that path are denying our previous ministry. This is not required by the Roman Catholic Church, and I for one am happy to affirm the reality of all that I have done and been as a priest and bishop in the Church of England.
At my own ordination, Archbishop Nichols talked of our previous ministry as bishops in the Church of England. If the Synod lawyers are suggesting that we should renounce our ministry, this seems at variance with the feelings of most Anglicans, and my own.
As someone who chaired the revision committee on the previous Clergy Discipline Measure, I know how unworkable such Measures prove to be in practice. That said, the suggestion that clergy who left the Church of England, who would obviously be unlicensed, could in any way be subject to the present Measure is manifestly laughable.
Relinquishment of orders not only costs a substantial amount, but means that those who do so are entered on the Lambeth List along with those deprived or deposed for serious offences. I certainly have no intention of relinquishing my orders.



  1. It must not be supposed that because Rome (seems to) accept that Fr Broadhurst was a deacon/priest/bishop in the Church of England is equivalent to the RCC's acceptance that he was such in the Church of God. The trouble is that the Church of England insists that when it ordained Fr B he was ordained as a deacon/priest/bishop in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Rome does not recognise this. Fr Peter Jones

  2. Yes, that's been precisely our dilemma. Yet there's a curious paradox in the claim Anglicans continue to make about "our" orders and the recent insistence that we can change them unilaterally. That has to call all kinds of things into question, doesn't it?

  3. Dear Fr Michael
    Thanks for your response to my earlier comment. If I may be brief, for the sake of this form of writing:
    (1)I guess you have the WO in mind as the instance of unilateral change. But there are (according to Rome) others such that Anglican claims to have valid (or even irregular) orders are null and void. There may be special pleading on the part some (notably Mgr Graham Leonard), but this is very rare and not entirely won by the supplicant. Now Anglicans (including you and, and one time, the redoubtable Fr Ed Tomlinson)hold that, nonetheless, you and all male Anglican ministers are deacons/priests/bishops in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. So all the 'unilateral changes' Anglicanism has made to - let's abbreviate it and say - Ordination have not placed you outside that authenticating concept. WO is the only exception. So you seem to claim. Rome strongly and consistently disagrees.

    (2)Rome has itself made unilateral changes to ordination. Some of these - perhaps all of them - are minor ones, yet still significant. The Orthodox treat as unilateral innovation the Roman claim that ordination conveys/creates indelible character. But, of course, Rome makes such 'changes' legitimate on the grounds that they are legitimate organic developments, and that, by definition, she is the Church.

    (2) So, WO or not, Anglican orders, qua Anglican, are something for which Rome urges Anglican converts to be grateful, not to deny or to renounce. Just as she might want Methodist or Baptist converts to regard their own 'ministerial' pasts. But Anglican Orders, qua Orders of/within the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church ... you've never had them. So being on the receiving end of Roman Ordination at least implies that the Ordinand accepts that he never had them. And when Fr John, et al, were ordained by a Roman Bishop, by implication the claim that Anglican Orders are Catholic Orders was quietly but firmly set aside.

  4. Dear Fr Peter, when I said in response to your previous comment "that has to call all kinds of things into question" I think many of us now would be very wary of overemphasising a claim that Anglican orders are identical to those in the undisputed apostolic succession of Rome and Orthodoxy. I still maintain that that is their intention - in ordaining its ministers Anglicans claim that they are ordaining exactly as the Church has always intended, but the fact of their non-recognition - not only by Rome but by Orthodoxy also - is an issue whether we like it or not. I suppose while it seemed that Rome and Canterbury (and Orthodoxy also) were on converging paths, that was something we could live with in the knowledge that any supposed "defects" or questions as to "validity" would be repaired in any formal reunion of the churches. The point that those who are entering or preparing to enter into full communion with the See of Peter (and that of course is a sunstantial claim in itself, one I am very happy to accept) are making (I can only assume, we must ask them)) is simply that while they are not repudiating anything in their past, including their orders, (re)ordination is now necessary to remove any doubt there may be in the minds of all those to whom they will be ministering in their new ecclesial setting. Ambiguity of this kind (if indeed there is ambiguity) isn't exactly unknown in movements towards the reunion of the Churches and its probably a small but necessary degree of ambiguity.
    However, the point I was originally making is that even if one accepts the arguments made by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in Saepius Officio, their well-argued response to Apostolicae Curae [now online here at]subsequent Anglican developments, WO included, mean that these arguments will now never be subject to re-examination. What was converging is now diverging once again, exposing starkly the fault-lines in contemporary Anglicanism and placing many of us in a very exposed and difficult situation.


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