Essex

Colchester vicar happy to remain with Church of England

Reverend Richard Tillbrook
Image caption Rev Tillbrook believes the Church of England will become stronger

An Anglican priest has been explaining his reasons for not defecting to the Roman Catholic Church.

In January it was revealed up to 300 Essex Anglicans and seven vicars could join the Ordinariate, set up by Pope Benedict XVI for disaffected clergy.

Father Richard Tillbrook of St Barnabus Church, in Colchester, said he had thought long and hard about the offer.

"I have made my decision to stay because I love the Church of England," he said.

"I pray the new synod may well understand more fully the need to have provision within the Church of England for our sacramental surety and what it's all about."

Anglicans, some opposed to developments including women bishops, gay clergy and same-sex blessings, can enter the Ordinariate to convert to Rome while maintaining many of their own traditions.

Reverend Tillbrook told BBC Essex his views on issues such as the ordination of women vicars could be labelled as "traditionalist".

"I've always believed that Christ called men as apostles and therefore we're the successors to the apostles as priests," he said.

"I don't think God changes his mind about things, but I sit easily with people who have a different opinion than me and if people in the Church of England think women are called to the priesthood I don't stand to protest."

He admitted he had given the offer of switching to the Catholic church some serious thought.

"In the early stages I thought perhaps the Pope was suggesting this might be a place where Anglicans could still be Anglicans, but in communion with Rome," he said.

"But as it developed it's clear to me that it's actually becoming a Roman Catholic priest and Roman Catholic people in a separate Ordinariate in this country of ours.

"That in itself didn't appeal to me, because I don't want to be out of communion with the Church of England."

Reverend Tillbrook, who grew up as a Catholic before "falling in love with the Church of England," said he did not think the Church of England would not be weakened by the defections.

"I don't think the voice of the 'Catholic wing' will be weakened because we still have good men and women in the synod who are of a Catholic persuasion and very fine priests who will speak up and teach the faith, so I think we'll be fine," he said.

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