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Monday, 5 June 2017

Fellow Christians Say Thank You Bishop David

 Today family and friends gathered in the Priory Church of St Mary Abergavenny to express their gratitude for the sacramental ministry and pastoral care of Bishop David Thomas who died suddenly on 11 May.

There were many old faces to be seen, my own among them, including bishops, priests, deacons and laity in a beautiful Funeral Mass presided over by the Right Reverend Jonathan Goodall, Bishop of Ebbsfleet.

At Rosemary's invitation six priests concelebrated due to their particularly close association with Bishop David: The Rev Canons Hugh Jones, Richard Harper, Jeffrey Gainer, Keith Evans, Mark Soady and the Rev Nicholas Barry. A splendid, no holds barred eulogy was delivered by Bishop David's daughter, Mrs Fliss Barry. His grandchildren Charlotte, Andrew, Olivia, Lewis and Samuel brought the gifts of bread and wine to the altar while the congregation sang that rousing Welsh hymn Tydi a wnaeth y wyrth , O Grist, Fab Duw.

In a delightfuly apt homily the Rev Canon Peter Jones spoke of Bishop David's pastoral care for clergy in need and of his special relationship with the laity simply as a fellow Christian. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Additional reports here and here.


  1. I was very sorry not to be there today. He will be sorely missed. I wish he had been my diocesan bishop. Requiescat in pace.

  2. I thought it to be a little sad to read on other blogs referred to here,that the Ordinariate is now the answer.It may well be for some.
    But if David Thomas had believed that, then surely he would have led in this direction. A richer testimonial to Bishop David, as one priest did say, would be to look forward to 'the resurrection' of a Catholic ethos within the Church in Wales.
    Certainly Pope Benedict has generously accommodated in his welcome to former Anglicans. But the Ordinariate is not simply the 'continuing Anglican Church' within the Roman Catholic Church; it is wholly Catholic, insofar that cradle Catholics are absolutely at liberty to worship and receive at an Ordinariate Mass. Vice versa ,once received into the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate ,then an Ordinariate member may receive at any Catholic Mass.

    1. I totally agree with your view here, it is such difficult times but a revival of Anglo Catholic tradition within CIW is what we must surely pray for x

  3. Simple Soul;

    Where is this ‘resurrection’ of the Catholic Ethos in the CiW to come from? And who is to lead it? +David retired in 2008 and there has been not a single Bishop of orthodox belief and practice in office in this Province since. Those days are over.

    Bishops are essential to the catholic understanding of the historic Apostolic Ministry. The CiW Bench know this. Why do you think that no successor was appointed on +David’s retirement?

    Remember that this Petertide, Joanna Penberthy will commence ‘ordinations’ in the Diocese of St Davids – men and women – whom those that hold to the apostolic ministry will not recognise as either deacons or priests. When June arrives in July (and I can’t believe I am typing this) in the ancient and historic See of Llandaff, the same will be true here, too.

    I was privileged to be in attendance at the Requiem Eucharist for our beloved Bishop but was struck by a number of issues that immediately became obvious:

    - The average age of the Clergy in attendance – with respect, most were old men, either retired or approaching that age;

    - The number of absentee Clergy who I expected to have been present from erstwhile ‘Anglo-Catholic’ parishes … I did compile a mental ‘list of shame’ but this is not the time place to replicate it. Where were they?

    - The fact that many of those priests that +David ordained, along with other gifted and able Clergy (but who at least made the effort to attend his funeral), left the CiW long ago for posts in the CofE or elsewhere. Those I spoke to afterwards all stated that they would never dream of a return to the Church in Wales.

    +David was loved and cherished as a pastor, but the fact remains that he was under-used by parish Clergy (how many actually called upon him to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation to their people …?) and he had zero say or influence on where traditionalist clergy could be deployed, as is the (continuing) case for parishes in England under the pastoral care of the PEV’s. The Welsh Diocesans were clear on this. Hence the exodus from Wales of men that +David had ordained!

    The Ordinariate is an option that a tiny minority have taken, but the offer of Pope Benedict XVI has - to date- largely been declined by a majority of Anglicans in this Province. This offer remains open for all time, but (of course) the decision is down to individual conscience.

    I am grateful to +David for his gentle and pastoral ministry. May he rest in peace.

    - Across the Tiber

    1. @Anonymous -Across the Tiber.
      I understand the points you make.
      I did not realise that there was a paucity of requests to Bishop David for confirmations.However I have noticed that the support for Credo Cymru has sadly declined.
      You say that some traditional priests have gone to England for refuge but perhaps more have put on their blinkers and abandoned the fight? Priests have found it easier, or even necessary, to 'give-in' simply because the attitude of the laity has changed. With the growth of more 'relaxed' services ,viz messy church for example, the laity are adopting exactly what the Bishop of St.Asaph promotes in dealing with the Islamic threat, in just extending the hand of friendship to everyone. Thus the churches are becoming more of a social club.
      I have now convinced myself that there is a Protestant revival!
      As far as the Ordinariate is concerned it was intended that the individual groups would provide a way of keeping together those who left their Anglican parishes. And furthermore did leave their Anglican parish together with their priest who led them to the Ordinariate. But it has not happened like this in Wales. There has been some loss of priests but few, and some who are older or retired. The Ordinariate laity are a handful in Wales.
      So now I have come full circle! If there was going to be a big transfer to the Ordinariate ,then it would have happened by now ,since Bishop David retired 8 years ago ,and no successor. The younger and middle age priests have a great concern in leaving the CiW. Many have families and cannot risk living 'in limbo' for a period of maybe 2 or more years while discernment takes place.

  4. I agree that there will be no big transfer of priests and people; many Anglicans simply do not wish to become Catholics in Full Communion. As I said earlier, this decison is down to the individual. It was anticpated that at least some priests and their people would take advantage of the Holy Father's offer but this has yet to happen on any significant scale in Wales ... surely a cause for disappointment, and regret for older clergy for whom this offer is no longer available due to age, etc ...... but one does wonder what has to happen next in the CiW to at least provoke some serious theological thought about the future. I anticpate that, with female "bishops", zero proviosion for those who hold the Orthodox view on Holy Order, and an increasingly liberal hierachy, the Paternal nature of God the Father will be the next to fall (..... the Holy and Undivided Trinity erased in favour of the amorphous and heretical "Creator/Redeeemer/Sanctifier").

    I also agree that there is a obvious movement afoot to absorb the CiW/CofE into a ghastly pan-Protestant worldwide sect. A Protestant revival indeed.

    However I cannot agree with your final sentence: "The younger and middle age priests have a great concern in leaving the CiW. Many have families and cannot risk living 'in limbo' for a period of maybe 2 or more years while discernment takes place". This is a poor excuse. All that is needed is courage of conviction and the desire to make that leap of Faith. The Catholic Church provides for its children: one has only to ask any convert clergy with families (Ordinariate or Diocesan - yes, there are married Catholic priests working as ordinary Diocesan clergy who were not ordained via the Ordinariate), and they will confirm this. They will also say that the move, although a cause of understandable stress and anxiety at the time, has brought them the peace and joy which the Anglican 'Communion' can no longer give.

    - Across the Tiber

  5. No-one should leave the denomination they belong to for purely negative reasons, i.e. because for one reason or another they become disillusioned with it. Anyone considering a move to the RC Church - whether by way of the Ordinariate or into the normal diocesan structure - will have to show that they are doing so because they believe it to be the True (and only true) Church, and not because the Anglican Church has by its recent monkeying about with the structure of its ordained ministry somehow de-Catholicised itself. As Simple Soul reminded us, if Bishop David Thomas had thought the Ordinariate was the right path to take he would have set out on it himself; the same goes for numerous other clergy and laity who are equally unhappy with the present state of affairs. Clergy, as we have seen, can take themselves off to jobs in England, although I can't for the life of me see how access to 'flying bishops' provides a solution more durable than ecclesiastical Elastoplast - a surface dressing, not a healing of the wound. My sympathy is for the faithful laity, whose local roots and parochial loyalties have always been one of the defining characteristics of Anglican life both in Wales and in England, and who cannot or should not be expected to tear themselves away from them - as well as for the not-so-faithful or entirely faithless laity, who still (just) expect to find in their parish church and its priest the same spiritual leadership and pastoral care they have provided for upwards of a thousand years. (This, by the way, is why the Ordinariate Simply Won't Work; however 'Anglican' it may try to be in establishing its tradition of worship it will never take the place of the 'true' Anglican Church by being the Church in this town or this village or this network of city streets.)

    1. Matthew,

      The Ordinariate does not exist to take the place of every parish in every town and village as you suggest. It offers a way into Full Communion for those Anglicans who wish it, and in doing so provides a recognisable and familar liturgical home by means of what has been labelled the Anglican Patrimony, now enshrined in its own Office book and Missal.

      The Parish system that you mention was, remember, the glory of the Catholic Church in this land, shamefully appropriated from it during the series of Reformations, and which is now in a downward spiral of crisis due to the adoption of liberal theological practice and an abandonment of that which is true. The faithless laity that you reference are already surprised to find that, in many cases, their parish churches have been locked out and sold off for ever. A trend that is sure to continue unless there is a drastic return to orthodoxy (see my previous comments above). But who is left to lead this ...? My question remains unanswered.

      The Ordinariate is not, in truth, the success that was hoped. Even its most ardent supporters would not claim otherwise. Damien Thompson writing in the Catholic Herald sums up his hopes in the following article, which is well worth reading.

      There are other links at the bottom of this page that are also well worth reading. With respect, ignorance of the Ordinariate and its function does seem extensive amongst Anglicans, even five years after its establishment.

      - Across the Tiber

    2. Not being persuaded that the RC Church 'is' the Catholic Church I'm not for one moment suggesting that the Ordinariate should attempt to establish something on the lines of the Anglican parish system; my point is that by not being part of this structure, it's missing an important element in the Anglican identity.

  6. In that case our views diverge, although I confess that I once believed as you did. I now know that I was wrong. Fr Hunwicke has this very day has posted a very succinct and approriate post on his blog ...

    - Across The Tiber

  7. I'm not trying to argue about the catholicity or otherwise of the CofE/CinW; merely that there would be an enormous hole if it/they weren't there. Even in their maimed and attenuated state they continue to make Christ present in their parishes -- who would do that if they didn't?