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Bishop of Ebbsfleet Goes to Rome

The Anglo-Catholic Provincial Episcopal Visitor (PEV) for the Province of Canterbury, the Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, has announced his resignation and intention of entering into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

In a statement released through the offices of the Archbishop of Canterbury the public details were laid out.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has, with regret, accepted the resignation of Bishop Jonathan Goodall after eight years as Bishop of Ebbsfleet, following his decision to seek full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

“Archbishop Justin said, “I am deeply grateful to Bishop Jonathan for his ministry and many years of faithful service.  My prayers are with him and Sarah, both for his future ministry and for the direction in which they are being called in their continuing journey of dedicated service to Christ. 

“With regard to the see of Ebbsfleet, we will be starting a process of consultation with colleagues and others — including the parishes to whom Bishop Jonathan ministers — to determine what the next steps will be.”

“Bishop Jonathan said, “I have arrived at the decision to step down as Bishop of Ebbsfleet, in order to be received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, only after a long period of prayer, which has been among the most testing periods of my life.

“Life in the communion of the Church of England has shaped and nourished my discipleship as a Catholic Christian for many decades. This is where I first received – and for half my life have ministered, as priest and bishop – the sacramental grace of Christian life and faith. I shall always treasure this and be thankful for it. I trust you all to believe that I have made my decision as a way of saying yes to God’s present call and invitation, and not of saying no to what I have known and experienced in the Church of England, to which I owe such a deep debt”.

As a Provincial Episcopal Visitor, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet looked after Anglo-Catholic congregations that refused to accept the ministry of women clergy within the Province of Canterbury.  His role was that of a suffragan or assistant bishop which means he holds no jurisdiction and is dependent upon the good will of diocesan bishops to carry out his episcopal functions.

Within the Church of England, there are two types of PEVs.  Bishop Goodall served the Anglo-Catholic congregations and Bishop Rod Thomas, Bishop of Maidstone, serves the conservative evangelical congregations which do not accept the innovation of women clergy. The former rejects the ordination of women because it contrary tradition and practice.  The latter group rejects the change because they believe 1 Timothy 2:12-14 specifically excludes women from ordained ministry. 

The point in question is from the first Epistle of St Paul to Timothy 2:12-14.

“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather she should remain quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor”.

The conservative evangelical wing of the church believes not only goes against tradition but that the practice contradicts Article 20 of the Church of England’s Thirty-nine Articles of Religion. It forbids the Church from “ordaining anything contrary to God’s word written, neither may it expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another”.

According to press reports, five Church of England bishops have left since 2010 over the issue.

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