Church of England General Synod member joins the Catholic Church

Church of England General Synod member joins the Catholic Church

Fr Peter Geldard

Father Peter Geldard has been a member of the Church of England's General Synod for over 18 years representing the Diocese of Canterbury and a regular contributor to 'AD2000'. Fr Geldard has been one of the most articulate opponents of women's ordination in his Church (which ultimately took place in November 1992). On 28 February he informed the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, that he was to be received into the Catholic Church. 25 members of his Anglican parish will be joining him. Below are extracts from Fr Geldard's letter of resignation.

"I write to you the hardest and saddest letter that it has ever been my experience to produce but one which I suspect you have anticipated ever since 5.00 p.m., 11 November 1992 ...

"It would be inopportune and inappropriate to rehearse once again in detail the reasons and circumstances which have led to this moment. Suffice to say that after what is now over two years of prayer, reflection and wide consultation of those wiser than myself, nothing has removed my doubts concerning the events of that fateful Wednesday. Whatever the cogency of the issue itself, it was I believe a complete misuse of Authority and undermined the claim of the Church of England to share a common ordained priesthood with the wider Catholic Church and destroyed the very raison d'etre which attracted me to join her some 33 years ago.

"During all that time - not least as a priest within the diocese of Canterbury for 23 years - I have tried to uphold, and witness to the fundamental claim that the Church of England was a part, albeit a very small part, of the wider Catholic Church. Above all, I believed we were duty bound to do nothing which would jeopardise further that Unity which Christ wills and for which we are all to work and pray. By her one action that day she demonstrated her true belief about these things and not least proclaimed that a 'local' Synod had the right and authority to change even the matter of the Sacraments which previously she had affirmed she shared with the wider Catholic Church. In the haunting words of Newman: 'the spell (of the Church of England) has been broken.'

"Nothing since that day has altered this view. In fact, if I may be so bold, unfolding events have demonstrated further that the Synod's actions have introduced such doubt into the Church of England's Sacramental life that I literally weep at the prospects of internal, let alone external, Unity being accomplished ever again ...

"It is therefore with a heavy heart and with deep sadness that I now write ... to give notice of the relinquishing of my ministry from the end of next month, i.e., 31 March 1995 ...."