Catholic archbishop responds to first woman bishop in Church of England

27 January 2015 • Persistent link:

The Catholic archbishop of Birmingham says he wishes the Church of England’s first female bishop well in her ministry and will be remembering her in his prayers. Archbishop Bernard Longley is the Catholic co-chair of ARCIC, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. He told Vatican Radio that the consecration of Bishop Libby Lane on Monday was a “historic moment in the life of the Church of England” but noted that there has long been “the presence, the witness and the work of women” as bishops within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Reverend Libby Lane was ordained in York Minister as the new Bishop of Stockport, after the Church of England voted to adopt legislation last November to allow women bishops. Archbishop Longley said that while the ordination of women presents challenges to the Anglican-Catholic dialogue, this latest development “shouldn’t affect the way in which the dialogue is continued”.

Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s interview with Archbishop Bernard Longley:

Archbishop Longley says there is a personal response and an ecclesial dimension to the ordination of Bishop Libby Lane which is likely to be up for discussion when ARCIC holds its next meeting near Rome in May. At a local level, he says, it will also be of significance as Catholics prepare to work more closely with women bishops over the years to come.

Archbishop Longley says that while the conversation about women’s ministry continues in parts of the Catholic Church, this development is unlikely to bring about changes in the Catholic teaching on the sacrament of ordination.

Archbishop Longley also speaks about the importance of praying together for Christian unity and about the possibility of sharing the Eucharist in specific situations, outlined in the bishops’ document ‘One Bread, One Body’. He cites the example of an Anglican mother who was able to receive the Eucharist in a Catholic Church during her son’s ordination. He says Catholic bishops and clergy have a responsibility to make these norms better known, since they also deepen the communion of other Christians with the Catholic Church.