LEICESTER, United Kingdom — A fourth Anglican bishop in a year has been received into the Catholic Church.
It was confirmed by the Church hours – an independent newspaper covering the Church of England – that the former Bishop of Chester, Peter Forster, became a Catholic last year.
The other three Church of England bishops who became Catholics last year are the former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali; the former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathon Goodall; and the former Bishop of Burnley, John Goddard.
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Foster was received into the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in Scotland, where he and his wife now reside.
Forster retired from the Diocese of Chester in 2019, having served as the oldest bishop in the Church of England. There were complaints that he mishandled an allegation of abuse against a diocesan priest in 2009, and in his testimony to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) he admitted to having done so. an “error in judgement” and that “it was not handled properly at the time.”
While a bishop in the Church of England, Forster was a member of the English Anglican-Roman Catholic Committee. Although opposed to efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in the UK and the ordination of practicing gay clergy, he had supported the ordination of women and the first female bishop in the Church of England was from his diocese.
However, the Church hours said Forster was concerned about the effect of female bishops on ecumenism.
“[He] noted a “drift” in ecumenical relations “from a view of full visible unity to an essentially degraded view of reconciled diversity”. It is ‘astonishing’ that ARCIC has not produced work on women’s ordination, he said,” the newspaper reported.
The Bishop was one of 26 Lords Spiritual – Church of England bishops sitting in Parliament – serving in the UK House of Lords from 2001 until his retirement in 2019.
Forster also criticized Pope Francis’ 2015 environmental encyclical Laudato Si’co-author The Papal Encyclical: A Critical Christian Response with Bernard Donoughue, a Labor peer. The document, published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, called the encyclical “somewhat naïve” and said that if the pontiff’s policy prescriptions were followed, it “would only serve to increase the very poverty he seeks to reduce. “.
The retired bishop, 71, has not spoken about his reception into the Catholic Church, and there is no information on whether he will seek to become a Catholic priest.
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In addition to the four Church of England bishops, former Church of England priest Gavin Ashenden was also received into the Catholic Church in December 2019. Ashenden had been ordained a bishop in the Christian Episcopal Church , a breakaway Anglican denomination, in 2017.
Follow Charles Collins on Twitter: @CharlesinRome