Following the resignation of the former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathan Goodall, in September last year, a consultation on the way forward for the see has received a number of calls to consider relocating the post to be rooted in an individual diocese and diocesan college of bishops.
The Bishop of Ebbsfleet - one of the Church of England’s three ‘Provincial Episcopal Visitors’, who minister to traditional catholic parishes – has been responsible primarily for churches in the western half of the Church of England’s Province of Canterbury.
Following the initial consultation, a suggestion from the Archbishop of Canterbury to revive the suffragan See of Oswestry in the Diocese of Lichfield is currently being explored.
The proposal would involve a future Bishop of Oswestry living in the diocese and ministering to traditional catholic parishes in that and other dioceses of the West Midlands and south west of England.
No decisions have been taken. Initial consultations are currently underway within the Diocese of Lichfield, with The Society and in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Any proposal would then be considered by the Dioceses Commission this summer.
The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, said: “Although in its early stages, I welcome this proposal for the relocation of the centrally-funded post of Provincial Episcopal Visitor from the See of Ebbsfleet to the See of Oswestry. This would ensure that the 13 dioceses, including Lichfield Diocese, in this part of the Province of Canterbury continue to receive extended pastoral and sacramental care for their traditionalist catholic parishes.
“I greatly value and have benefitted from the ministry of women as deacons, priests and bishops, as has this whole diocese of Lichfield. If a bishop is appointed to the See of Oswestry I and my episcopal colleagues will be committed to working with him and with all our clergy, both women and men, to strengthen mutual flourishing as we grow together into Christ.”
- This update is also on the Church of England's website.
- The Provincial Episcopal Visitors - the Bishops Beverley, Richborough and Ebbsfleet – were created as part of the arrangements in 1992 which first enabled women to be ordained as priests.
- The See of Oswestry was one of a number of sees created in the 19th Century but never filled
- Further information about The Society (more fully, The Society under the patronage of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda). A statement from the Society on the consultation is also on their website.