Married Bishop quits Church of England to join Catholic Church

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The Rt Rev Jonathan Goodall announced his decision to leave after eight years as Bishop of Ebbsfleet following
The Rt Rev Jonathan Goodall announced his decision to leave after eight years as Bishop of Ebbsfleet following

A married church of England bishop has resigned from his position in order to join the Roman Catholic Church after what he said was “among the most testing periods of my life.”

The Rt Rev Jonathan Goodall announced his decision to leave after eight years as Bishop of Ebbsfleet following “a long period of prayer.”

He will now seek full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

He is understood to have felt a “pull” towards Rome and took the personal decision in response to what he believes is God’s call.

Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, said he accepted the resignation with regret and expressed gratitude for Bishop Jonathan’s “many years of faithful service.”

Bishop Jonathan served as a provincial episcopal visitor, also known as a “flying bishop”, ministering various parishes which decline to be overseen by a woman bishop.

He was a member of The Society, an ecclesiastical body whose aims include promoting and maintaining catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England.

He also served as chaplain to the former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and his ecumenical secretary.

He has a wife, Sarah and two children. While Catholic priests are not permitted to marry, the Roman Catholic Church has accepted married Anglican priests who convert in the past.

In a statement on Friday, Bishop Jonathan said: “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.”

Mr Welby 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.”

He said a “process of consultation” will begin to determine the next steps with regard to the see of Ebbsfleet.

Rt Rev Tony Robinson, chairman of The Society’s Council of Bishops, said: “I am sure our entire movement joins with me in wishing Bishop Jonathan well.

“He has served with distinction as the Bishop of Ebbsfleet for the last eight years, which has been the culmination of many years of devoted service to the Church of England.”

In 2010 several bishops converted over the Church of England’s ordination of women. Among them was the then serving Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the role Bishop Jonathan is now leaving.

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