An outspoken former chaplain to the Queen is to convert to Catholicism on the Fourth Sunday of Advent this year.
Gavin Ashenden resigned his chaplaincy in 2017 after criticising a service at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow which included a reading from the Koran denying Christ’s divinity. He left the Church of England that same year to become a bishop in the Christian Episcopal Church, a breakaway group of traditionalist Anglicans.
Writing in a forthcoming edition of the Catholic Herald, Ashenden said the Church of England had capitulated “to the increasingly intense and non-negotiable demands of a secular culture.”
“I watched as Anglicanism suffered a collapse of inner integrity as it swallowed wholesale secular society’s descent into a post-Christian culture,” he added.
The former chaplain said he was helped in his conversion by taking up the Rosary and by looking into Eucharistic miracles. “The fact that [the miracles] were unknown amongst those who celebrated the Anglican version of the Eucharist, carries obvious implications,” he wrote.
After failing to find a way to unite orthodox Anglicans into one ecclesial grouping, Ashenden also came to appreciate the Magisterium of the Catholic Church: “I came to realise (too long after both Newman and Chesterton had already explained why) that only the Catholic Church, with the weight of the Magisterium, had the ecclesial integrity, theological maturity and spiritual potency to defend the Faith, renew society and save souls in the fullness of faith.”
Ashenden will be received into the Church by Bishop Mark Davies at Shrewsbury Cathedral. Bishop Davies told the Church Militant website it was “very humbling to be able to receive a bishop of the Anglican tradition into Full Communion in the year of the canonization of Saint John Henry Newman.”
“It has been a special joy to accompany Gavin Ashenden in the final steps of a long journey to be at home in the Catholic Church,” Bishop Davies added.
“I am conscious of the witness which Ashenden has given in the public square to the historic faith and values on which our society has been built. I pray that this witness will continue to be an encouragement to many.”
The Diocese of Shrewsbury said that Ashenden’s Anglican orders will be suspended upon his reception into the Church and he will become a lay Catholic theologian.