Fourth Anglican bishop in less than a year received into the Catholic Church

MANCHESTER, England (CNS) — The former Anglican bishop of Chester, England, has joined the Catholic Church.

Peter Forster, 71, is the fourth Anglican bishop to be received into the Catholic faith in less than a year and the fifth to become a Catholic in the past two years.

He was Bishop of Chester for 22 years until his retirement in 2019 and was received into the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Scotland, where he now lives with his wife, Elizabeth . The private ceremony reportedly took place late last year, but Forster did not wish to make his move public.

[Related: What happens when an Anglican bishop becomes Catholic?]

The Church Times, an Anglican newspaper based in London, learned of her decision and published an article on February 4. Forster, when approached by Catholic News Service on Feb. 6, declined to comment.

Gavin Ashenden, a traditionalist former Anglican bishop and chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II, said Forster’s reception was significant.

Writing in the Catholic Herald, he said a decade ago “people would have laughed” at the suggestion that high-profile evangelical Anglican bishops would join the Catholic Church. Most bishops who join the Catholic Church come from members of the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England.

But an “entirely new reconfiguration of spiritual and theological fault lines is developing,” Ashenden said in his Feb. 5 post. He said many other Anglicans recognize that “the power and liveliness of lived Catholic tradition has become the antidote to the perversity of progressive political ambition”.

“The flow of Anglican refugees is just beginning,” said Ashenden, who became a Catholic in 2019.

Although Forster is a supporter of the ordination of women, he strongly opposes redefining marriage to include same-sex couples.

Jerry B. Hatch