21 June 2014

John Broadhurst

It is very sad that John Broadhurst, Emeritus Bishop of Fulham, should have been compelled to deal with implicit attacks upon his ministry in the Church of England.

The early 1990s are not so long ago. I cannot be the only one to remember vividly how rudderless the Catholic Movement was in the Church of England. We believed that our episcopal leaders, such as Eric Kemp, must have some rabbit that they would spring from their mitres. It transpired that they did not. It was in those gloomy days that John Broadhurst created structures for mutual collaboration, encouragement and assistance (to be candid and to give proper credit, David Holding at this time brought the SSC back to life). Gradually, we found our sense of direction. We met every autumn in that big evangelical hall in Westminster, and laughed together, planned together, hoped together, prayed together. Locally (I was a diocesan clerical Chairman of FIF) we did the same. We were aware that some mainstream bishops thought that they would embarrass their relationships with their episcopal brethren if they had anything to do with us; but apparently they saw great merit in refraining from physically ordaining women. So they delegated that distasteful little detail to others and then unhesitatingly appointed the ladies to benefices and curacies and treated them in every respect as if they were priests (let me be carefully fair: Eric Kemp did not do this; but his successor did).

So we were 'extreme'!! In the last few years of his life, I had the privilege of the close friendship of Bishop John Richards, one of the first brace of Flying Bishops, who lured me down to Devon to take a House for Duty just a few doors away from the retirement home he and Ruth had built in Lewdown. In those desolate years, his sacrificial labours had gathered a people to the Lord of some hundred parishes. How well I remember the anger ('JR's' anger was very memorable) with which he referred to delicate episcopal individuals who kept their hands untainted by female heads but deftly distanced themselves from FIF. After his retirement, the premature death of his first successor and the serious illness of the third Bishop of Ebbsfleet meant that he twice resumed the pastoral care of the district he had created and, quite literally, he worked himself to death. He would have been speechless with rage to be told, Prayer Book Catholic that he was, that he was 'extreme'.

'JR' was, and 'Broadhurst' is, men of immense stature; they were the last two truly great Anglo-Catholic bishops. Those who cannot see this do but condemn themselves.

4 comments:

Gary said...

Having the happy pleasure of meeting then Bishop Broadhurst in Bergen (and renewing the acquaintance the following year), I found him a man of optimism and vision. The years since then have only confirmed my impressions of him as a man of principles.

Alan said...

Very true, Father. My life as a layman from 1992 to the present has been divided between the Anglican dioceses of Lichfield and London. I knew Bishops Broadhurst and Richards pretty well.
Both were generous, pastorally minded men. If I may say so with charity, I did feel that (like the present Pope) Bishop Broadhurst sometimes "shot from the lip" a bit too readily, but this was hardly a major fault.
The accusation of extremism against the late Bishop Richards is even stranger. A sexagenarian archdeacon and "fixer" for the Bishop of Exeter, who must have thought a pointy hat had passed him by, he grew in his role as a bishop. I recall him taking me gently to task for being a bit abrasive when my then parish reacted to the vicar's Tiber-swimming by rescinding motions.
As I have remarked on Ed Tomlinson's blog in the past, I find it depressing that good priests who have joined the Ordinariate are airbrushed out like erring members of the politburo in Uncle Joe's photo album.

Doodler said...

As one of those priests who joined the Ordinariate, I think that the thing which hurt most was being removed from Crockfords and all records deleted (Except for a mention in black in the entry for those parishes where we had served.)
But I still have my pension. I think that I am right in saying that my (then-)parish was the first to pass Resolution C when JR was apointed. A second parish was +Michael Houghton's 100th and C wa passed on the day he was taken ill in December 1999.
But we move on.

Cam Ma said...

I have known many bishops and archbishops - RC and Anglican - and +John Richards stood head and shoulders above all of them. A saint who will sadly remain unacknowledged by the Church, but known to the Lord. Memory eternal!