Fourth Church of England bishop received into Roman Catholic Church

Peter Forster, former Bishop of Chester, has been received into the Roman Catholic Church, bringing to four the number of Church of England bishops who have converted since May. The former Bishop of Rochester, Nazir Ali, converted in October. The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathan Goodall, converted in September. The former Bishop of Burnley, John Goddard, converted in May. It had been over a decade since a bishop of the Church of England swam the Tiber.

The Church Times was the first to announce the latest conversion (paywalled).

From the National Catholic Reporter’s article:

He served as 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 was understood to have taken place late last year, but Forster did not wish to make his move public.


Forster retired from the Diocese of Chester in 2019, having been the longest serving Church of England bishop. There were complaints he mishandled an allegation of abuse against a priest of the diocese in 2009, and in testimony to the Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), he admitted he made a “misjudgment” and that “it wasn’t handled properly at the time.”

While a Church of England Bishop, Forster served as a member of the English Anglican-Roman Catholic Committee. While opposed to efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in the UK and the ordination of practicing homosexual clergy, he had supported the ordination of women, and the first woman bishop in the Church of England came from his diocese.

However, the Church Times said that Forster was worried about the effect of women bishops on ecumenism.

“[He] noted a ‘drift’ in ecumenical relations ‘from a vision of full visible unity to an essentially debased vision of reconciled diversity.’ It was ‘astonishing’ that ARCIC had not produced work on the ordination of women, he said,” the newspaper reported.

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