Former flying bishop fools once, twice, more?

The former flying bishop of Ebbsfleet, Andrew Burnham, confirms he was engaged in arrangements with Rome while on the Church of England payroll.

The UK Catholic Herald interview excerpts:

We didn’t have the legal authority to do any of it. But that was what we were in search of becoming. And it fitted in with the Forward in Faith Free Province rhetoric and fitted what we needed to survive in the Church of England. It was a good way to organise people and get them to move forward together.

Of course my dream would have been that when I said: “We’re going to submit to the Holy See.” Everyone would have followed me and done so that the priests, the churches and congregations would do so en bloc, which they haven’t.

It irritated people, but it did give us a real coherence and cohesion….

…Except that at the end we couldn’t all move forward together, which is the sadness. Partly it was because some priests are too afraid of doing it. Partly it was because of the issue of buildings. Partly it was because for congregations, provided they’ve got that nice Bishop so-and-so and that nice Father so-and-so the ecclesiology is neither here nor there.

I finally realised it was all going to go bad a couple of years ago, and in April 2008 I went to Rome. I’m claustrophobic so I don’t fly and I don’t travel very easily, (one of the ironies of my last job). But I thought, I have to go. It was my 60th birthday so I thought ‘lets go to Rome’ and I went to Rome.


We had a little charabanc and took my chaplain and my driver….

Victoria Coombe had reported the whole visit very accurately in the Tablet. But there was then what I call “the Elizabethan espionage story”.

There was a nasty leak in the Guardian, and that revealed the fact that we remained in touch with Rome during the process. That story was very overblown. Everyone is so jumpy: the Catholic Church pours confidentiality over everything like custard (a favourite phrase of mine). Whereas an Anglo-Catholic secret is something you tell to one person at a time, a Catholic secret, a pontifical secret, is a secret everybody knows except the Pope.


Our vision was that whole parishes would go over. And because the whole parish was going over then obviously the vicarage and the church hall and the church would sometimes go with them because otherwise they would be empty and unsupportable but in fact that’s not what is happening….

Read the whole thing here.

The optics aren’t good. Who paid for the driver, the chaplain, the little charabanc, the hotels, meals, and did the bishop use his own time for the trip to Rome? Or are those all perks of the office for which you do not need to account?

Check out the cover photo of the new online journal for the Ordinariate. The Tablet reports, “Substantial donations have been received in support of the new ordinariate for groups of Anglicans wishing to be received into the Catholic Church, with at least two donors – the St Barnabas Society and The Catholic League – pledging tens of thousand of pounds.”

Meanwhile, the pope is having trouble with his own right wing.

Last, but not least, everyone agrees the Ordinariate is trivial in size and significance. The ABC may be feeling like Brer Rabbit in his cozy briar patch just about now, glad to be free of Burnham et al.

Past Posts