Readers who have been following developments within the Church of England since the publication of Anglicanorum Coetibus, may be wondering how many convertions there might be within the area of the Middlesbrough Diocese. At present, we can only guess because most groups of potential swimmers are delaying their decision until February. That is when it is expected that the Church of England will decide what provision it will make to accommodate its members who are opposed to women bishops.
The likelihood is that no satisfactory provision will be made, and the current system of "flying bishops" will come to an end. The prevailing arguement amongst synod members seems to be that there should be no discrimination between male and female bishops; and consequently it would not be acceptable for the jurisdiction of female bishops to be restricted by having parishes within their territory over which they did not have full control.
It seems inevitable that next February, another wave Anglican bishops, priests and laity will begin to move out of the Church of England. Most will be heading towards the Catholic Church, but it is far from certain that they will all make use of the provisions for Ordinariates set out in Anglicanorum Coetibus. It seems to me that that would only work if whole parishes converted en Masse and they were lucky enough to have use of a suitable church. Furthermore, it would have to be a sizable parish for it to be able to support a priest financially. I would be surprised if there would be more than three viable Ordinariate parishes established within the Middlesbrough Diocese. It is more likely that most conversions will be by the conventional route of joining established Catholic parishes.
In the Church of England, parishes that use the oversight of flying bishops belong to a movement called Forward in Faith. The Forward in Faith website lists nine parishes within the boundaries of the Catholic Middlesbrough Diocese. Three are in Middlesbrough itself, two are in North Thornaby and two are in York. In addition, there is one at Cottingham, one at Carlin How and one at Loftus. Of course, conversions are not limited to F in F parishes, neither is it necessarily the case that the majority of members of a F in F parish (or indeed any members) will convert.
So one can only guess what might happen. My stab in the dark is that about 10 clergymen and maybe 200 laity will take the plunge.
"Advancement of the Catholic Religion"
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