An Anglican bishop and former chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II is to be received into the Catholic Church in Shrewsbury Cathedral.
The Rt Rev. Mark Davies, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, will confirm the Rt Rev. Dr Gavin Ashenden (pictured) in the Catholic faith during Mass on December 22, the fourth Sunday of Advent.
His reception into the Catholic Church means that his Anglican orders will be suspended and will become a lay Catholic theologian.
Helen Ashenden, his wife of 23 years, became a Catholic in the Shrewsbury diocese about two years ago.
Dr Ashenden served as a chaplain to Her Majesty from 2008-2017 but resigned from his post in objection to the reading of a chapter from the Koran at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland, which explicitly denied the divinity of Jesus.
Soon afterwards, he was ordained as a missionary bishop of the Christian Episcopal Church, a traditional Anglican jurisdiction founded in 1992.
Dr Ashenden is becoming a Catholic partly because he believes the Roman Catholic Church has the deep capacity to remain faithful to “the integrity and insight of biblical, apostolic and patristic values” at a time when powerful social and cultural challenges threaten to deny and extinguish them.
Much of his ministry is online, via the website https://ashenden.org/ that attracts hundreds of thousands of visits each year.
Bishop Davies said: “It is very humbling to be able to receive a bishop of the Anglican tradition into full communion in the year of canonisation of St John Henry Newman.
“It has been a special joy to accompany Gavin Ashenden in the last steps of a long journey to be at home in the Catholic Church.
“I am conscious of the witness which Gavin Ashenden has given in the public square to the historic faith and values on which our society has been built. I pray that this witness will continue to be an encouragement to many.”
Dr Ashenden said: “In my judgement, at this point in history, only the Roman Catholic and Orthodox expression churches have the capacity to defend the faith as our circumstances require.
“Having come to believe that the claims and expression of the Catholic faith are the most profound and potent expression of apostolic and patristic belief, and to accept the primacy of the Petrine tradition, I am grateful to the Bishop of Shrewsbury and the Catholic community in his diocese for the opportunity to mend 500 years of fractured history and be reconciled to the Church that gave birth to my earlier tradition.
“I am especially grateful for the example and the prayers of St John Henry Newman. He did his best to remain a faithful Anglican and renew his mother Church with the vigour and integrity of the Catholic tradition. Now, as then, however, his experience informs ours that the Church of England is inclined to be rooted in secularised culture rather than the integrity and insight of biblical, apostolic and patristic values.
“His experience also inspires ours, and charts the way to our proper ecclesial home which is the rock that is the Petrine charism of faith and witness in our struggle for salvation and heaven.”