Former Bishop of Chester received into the Roman Catholic Church

A FORMER Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, was received into the Roman Catholic Church last year, it was confirmed this week.

The news follows the reception of Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, into the RC Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (News, October 15, 2021) and the resignation of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, to be received into the RC Church (News, September 10, 2021).

Dr. Forster retired as bishop in September 2019, at the age of 69, after more than 22 years in office (News, May 3, 2019). Concerns over his handling of safeguarding matters had been raised and before his retirement he delegated all safeguarding responsibilities to the then Suffragan Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Keith Sinclair (News, April 5, 2019) .

Dr. Forster and his wife moved to a house in Scotland, which had been under construction for several years. It is understood that he was received in Scotland.

Dr Forster was a longtime supporter of the ordination of women, and in 2014 the Diocese of Chester became the first English diocese to have a female bishop after the Rt Revd Libby Lane was appointed Bishop of Stockport (News , December 12, 2014). But, in previous years, Dr. Forster has raised concerns about the Church’s approach to the issue of women bishops, particularly regarding its effect on ecumenism.

In 2006 he criticized the Rochester Report on Women Bishops (by Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali) for not giving sufficient attention to Roman Catholic objections or for not seeking the advice of the Anglican-Catholic International Commission Roman (ARCIC). He criticized the creation of Provincial Episcopal Visitors, and in 2012 expressed concerns about “the effective destruction of the sacramental unity of the episcopate”, relying on comments made in the House of Bishops by the Cardinal Walter Kasper (Comment, 9 November 2012), then President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

A former member of the English Anglican-Catholic Committee, he noted a “drift” in ecumenical relations “from a view of full visible unity to an essentially degraded view of reconciled diversity”. It is “surprising” that ARCIC has not produced work on women’s ordination, he said.

Ordained in 1980, Dr Forster was senior tutor at St John’s College, Durham, before becoming curate of Beverley Minster in 1992. He opposed the passage of legislation allowing same-sex marriage (News, June 7 2013) and, in 2015, wrote a critical response to Pope Francis’ “naïve” encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’ (Commentary, 17 July 2015). Until 2019, he regularly reviewed for the Church hours.

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