On 12 May 2022 the Church of England issued the follow statement:
“Following the resignation of the former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathan Goodall, in September last year, a consultation on the way forward for the see has received a number of calls to consider relocating the post to be rooted in an individual diocese and diocesan college of bishops.
The Bishop of Ebbsfleet — one of the Church of England’s three ‘Provincial Episcopal Visitors’, who minister to traditional catholic parishes – has been responsible primarily for churches in the western half of the Church of England’s Province of Canterbury.
Following the initial consultation, a suggestion from the Archbishop of Canterbury to revive the suffragan See of Oswestry in the Diocese of Lichfield is currently being explored.
The proposal would involve a future Bishop of Oswestry living in the diocese and ministering to traditional catholic parishes in that and other dioceses of the West Midlands and South West of England.
No decisions have been taken. Initial consultations are currently underway within the Diocese of Lichfield, with The Society and with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Any proposal would then be considered by the Dioceses Commission this summer.”
The Society’s Council of Bishops responded to the Church of England’s statement on the same day with a statement of its own:
“The Society’s Council of Bishops welcomes the proposals being set out by the Archbishop of Canterbury for what is currently the See of Ebbsfleet and what would become the See of Oswestry. They would result in additional support being provided at a diocesan level to the Provincial Episcopal Visitor (PEV) for the western half of the Province of Canterbury. Such an arrangement would inevitably bring with it benefits for Society parishes in that area.
We feel it is important that, as part of this set of proposals, a senior priest of our integrity be based in the south-west of England and be tasked with supporting the work of the newly appointed bishop. This would support the Provincial Episcopal Visitor with an ongoing presence in that region and would facilitate closer working with the south-western dioceses.
On the See of Beverley vacancy, we are pleased to hear that good progress is being made towards an appointment and that, all being well, the successful candidate will be consecrated to the episcopate in the autumn of 2022.
We are mindful, particularly with two of the three PEV roles currently vacant, of the importance of us exhorting the faithful to attend Mass in person in Society parishes on a Sunday wherever that is feasible. The easing of the pandemic has led our brother Roman Catholic bishops in England and Wales to reintroduce the obligation to attend Mass in person on Sundays from the Solemnity of Pentecost, which is on 5 June this year.
We commend their words to you: “The Eucharist gives the Church her identity. It enables us to worship Almighty God, to support each other on our journey of faith, and to be a visible sign of faith in the world. This hallmark is supported and strengthened by the precept that our fundamental Christian duty is to worship God by participating in the celebration of Mass. Attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is the greatest of all privileges.”