Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Where is the new bishop of Fulham?

It was a little over a year ago now that the former Bishop of Fulham, John Broadhurst, announced his resignation at the end of 2010. He did so along with four other bishops, including the bishops of Ebbsfleet and Richborough. Last May, Father Jonathan Baker was appointed to the See of Ebbsfleet and Father Norman Banks was appointed to the See of Richborough. Both were consecrated on the 16th of June and have been serving for half the year now. So where is the new Bishop of Fulham?

In his final address to the Forward in Faith Annual Assembly in October 2010, Bishop Broadhurst noted that the Bishop of London stated that "he intends to replace me." So where is that replacement? Why the hold up? Is that appointment still coming? Last November, Bishop Chartres of London noted, "After consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, I intend with the assistance of representative figures in the Diocese, to appoint a successor to the Suffragan See of Fulham. I envisage that any new Bishop of Fulham will be more closely related to me as the Bishop of London in serving the Two Cities Area. Earlier today I met with the College of Bishops to discuss the way ahead. With immediate effect the Bishop of Edmonton has agreed to assume responsibility for the pastoral care of those clergy and parishes who before today related to the Bishop Fulham."

The Bishop of Fulham is an "area bishop" (in America, we call them suffragans) of the Diocese of London charged to minister specially to congregations opposed to the ordination of women. It may be that the position is being reworked somewhat, perhaps in tandem with Southwark. A person who seems knowledgeable posted this back in June on a Ship of Fools newsgroup:

"In the Diocese, we obviously want to establish a new way of working for the next Bishop of Fulham. The previous occupant of the see made it more of a personal chaplaincy; our aim going forward is to ensure that it is a genuinely suffragan role, with clarity both about the episcopal responsibilities that are expected and about the way in which pastoral care will be exercised for those unable to accept women priests and bishops. This includes looking at how the role extends south of the River. Work is being done on that at present, as is some thinking about the rationale for the London Area system (which we believe to be robust and to continue to serve the parishes well). No doubt an appointment will emerge in due course."

And Father Jones of St. Peters, London Docks, commented on his blog on August 31st: "Why, I am asked has there been no appointment of a Bishop of Fulham. Alas, I have no answer. I do not meet with the councils of the great. That said The Bishop of London has, both verbally and in writing, assured me and others that an appointment will be made and it will be that of a Catholic traditionalist. . . . I am not inclined to think The Bishop of London as being other than a man of honour and of his word . . ."