Anglican Bishop quits to join Catholic

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Right Reverend Jonathan Goodall has announced his decision to resign as the Bishop of Ebbsfleet in order to join the Roman Catholic Church.

The bishop said he decided to leave after eight years as bishop “after a long period of prayer” and further said that the decision was “among the most testing periods of my life.”

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.”

The Bishop 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.”

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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