Former Anglican Bishop of Chester Becomes Catholic

The former Anglican Bishop of Chester has become a Catholic during a private ceremony in Scotland.

Dr Peter Forster, 71, who retired in 2019, is the fourth Anglican bishop to be received into the Catholic faith in a year, and the fifth in the last two years.

He also the second bishop from the Evangelical wing of the Church of England to cross the Tiber after Dr Michal Nazir-Ali, the former of Bishop of Rochester, joined the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in September.

Until now, most Anglicans who become Catholics have usually come from the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Anglican Communion.

Dr Forster spent 22 years as Bishop of Chester and he was the first bishop to appoint a woman as suffragan when he named Libby Lane as Bishop of Stockport.

Previously, however, he raised concerns about the impact of women bishops on the life of the Church of England and its effects on ecumenical dialogue.

Like Dr Nazir-Ali, he has steadfastly supported traditional marriage and was actively opposed to attempts to redefine its meaning.

In 2003 he was among a number of Anglican bishops who wrote to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to complain about his plans to appoint an openly gay priest as a bishop.

While serving as one of the 26 Lords Spiritual he was also among nine Anglican bishops who, a decade later, sought to block David Cameron’s Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill to legally redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.

In the year of Dr Forster’s retirement, a complaint was brought him over his handling of abuse allegations, years earlier, made against a vicar who was later convicted of eight counts of sexual assault.

Until recently, Dr Forster wrote regularly for the Church Times, the Anglican newspaper, and in one article he criticised Laudato Si, the encyclical on care for the environment by Pope Francis, as “naïve”.

Dr Forster was received into the Catholic faith in the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh where he now lives with his wife.

With Dr Nazir-Ali, he is just the second former diocesan – as opposed to suffragan, area or “flying” – Anglican bishop to be received into the Catholic Church since Bishop Graham Leonard of London and Bishop Richard Rutt of Leicester in 1994.

It is understood that he was welcomed into the Catholic Church late in 2021 but chose to keep news of his reception private.

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