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Three ex-Anglican bishops are received into full communion

Three former Anglican bishops were received into full communion with the Catholic Church during a Mass at Westminster Cathedral today.

John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton – the former bishops of Fulham, Ebbsfleet and Richborough respectively – will take prominent roles in the Personal Ordinariate for England and Wales which will be established in early 2011.

The wives of two of the ex-Church of England bishops and three nuns from Walsingham were also received.

Westminster auxiliary Bishop Alan Hopes, himself a former Anglican, was chief celebrant at the Mass.

Fr Seán Finnegan, a Catholic priest and blogger who was present at the Mass, commented: “Only the three active flying bishops were received, all modestly and humbly in ties, together with some members of some of their families, plus the three sisters from Walsingham.

“I was surprised to see that even John Broadhurst, baptised a Catholic, was received along with the rest. They were then confirmed – some in accord with tradition took confirmation names; one of the former bishops took Benedict, another Joseph, others used their baptismal names – and they returned to their places to gentle applause. One of the sisters, descending the steps grinned at the congregation and gave two thumbs up.

“We all received Communion (five of our new brethren, including all three former bishops, on the tongue) and, lo, it was done. We are in communion.

“The Ordinariate is launched very quietly and gently, slipping almost unnoticed into the water.”

Jeffrey Steel, a Catholic blogger and former Anglican priest, said: “The Mass was beautifully sung and parts of it were set to the Lourdes Mass. The Mass was very well attended.

“Having served with these former Anglican bishops as a priest and fellow member of SSC [Society of the Holy Cross], it was good to see them finally take the step of faith and enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

“Bishop Alan Hopes preached an encouraging homily on the Mother of God and added encouraging words about those on the journey who were a part of the Ordinariate.”