LONDON – Five bishops in the Church of England are joining the Catholic Church under a scheme set up by the Pope for disaffected Anglicans.
The move was confirmed Monday by a statement from the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales welcoming the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Burnham, the Bishop of Richborough, the Rt. Rev. Keith Newton, the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt. Rev. John Broadhurst, and retired bishops Edwin Barnes and David Silk.
Bishop Broadhurst was the first in the Church of England to publicly announce his decision to join the Catholic Church last month.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, said he accepted the latest resignations "with regret."
The ordinariate was announced by Pope Benedict XVI last year to allow Anglicans who were discontent with the liberal direction of the global body to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving their Anglican traditions – including married priests. The pope issued an apostolic constitution, providing Vatican guidelines for disaffected Anglicans to enter their fold.
Some Anglo-Catholics have been distressed over moves in the Church of England to allow the consecration of women bishops.
According to The Tablet, the structure will be established in Britain in January.
The five bishops joining the ordinariate have been welcomed by Bishop Alan Hopes of the Catholic Church's Episcopal Commission.
He said in a statement: "At our plenary meeting next week, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales will be exploring the establishment of the ordinariate and the warm welcome we will be extending to those who seek to be part of it."