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Two Anglican bishops resign to become Catholic

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Catherine Williams/CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons | Robin Myerscough/Flickr CC BY 2.0

John Burger - published on 03/10/22

The moves follow last year's reception into the Church of Michael Nazir-Ali and Peter Forster.

Two more Anglican bishops have announced their intentions to become Catholic. The news follows last year’s announcements of two other former bishops of the Church of England to enter into communion with Rome.

The latest Anglican bishops to “swim the Tiber” are Jonathan Goodall, who was bishop of Ebbsfleet, England, for eight years, and John Goddard, former bishop of Burnley. Both are married fathers of two and are set to be ordained as priests in the Catholic Church. 

“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,” Goodall said in a statement published on the website of the Archbishop of Canterbury. “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.”

Goodall’s wife, Sarah, also is becoming a Catholic. 

The Diocese of Ebbsfleet was established in 1994 to serve Anglo-Catholic parishes that would not accept women as priests. Another bishop of Ebbsfleet, Andrew Burnham, also became a Catholic in the past, resigning in 2010 to join other former Anglicans in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Upcoming ordinations

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in the statement on his website that he has accepted Goodall’s resignation “with regret.”

“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.”

After an ordination in Westminster Cathedral on March 12, Goodall will serve as the parish priest of St. William of York in Stanmore in the Archdiocese of Westminster and in the north London borough of Harrow.

Goddard is hoping to be appointed to a parish in the Archdiocese of Liverpool after he is ordained by Auxiliary Bishop Tom Williams of Liverpool in an April 2 liturgy at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool. 

“I cannot think of a greater joy in life than serving as a parish priest,” he told the Catholic Herald. “It is perhaps the greatest gift for an ordained person.”

Last year, the former Anglican Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, and the former Bishop of Chester, Peter Forster, were received into the Catholic Church. In 2019, Gavin Ashenden, a former chaplain to the Queen and a traditionalist Anglican bishop, became a Catholic.

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