‘When you are received into full communion with the Catholic Church you are brought into a new relationship to God, you are brought to be embraced by a wonderful worldwide communion of love, and this cannot be expressed in one single simple reason. As Newman said, “you cannot take it in a teacup.” Very often I find that people assume that there was only the one reason – possibly a negative one – which made you make the move, and if you gave another reason they say, “Ah, that was the reason why he really came.” Well, the whole thing is so much more profound and so much richer than they would suppose. And, of course, it’s really important to make the point that the fact that you could not continue in the ministry in one Church was no reason in itself for being embraced by another. So there had to be a positive reason for why one asked to be received into the Catholic Church.
… The decision of the Church of England to go over to synodical government… meant that decision was made for the Church itself to define doctrine… the Church itself was given authority over doctrine, and so that was a great problem.
… [As Bishop of London] I was appealing to the teaching of the Catholic Church, leaving out the papacy. I was looking for what the Catholic Church has taught through ages, but ignoring the pope. And one of the great changes [that] came to me was seeing the divine command to St Peter – the recognition by Our Lord that St Peter had made his confession of his divinity – and then recognising that Our Lord himself, when Peter had denied him, had forgiven him and gave him the command to feed the sheep. As Cardinal Ratzinger said most wonderfully this was, among other things, a sign that the centre of the Church’s life is forgiveness, and that the Lord used somebody who denied him, [was] pardoned, and forgiven, and this is a sign of the pastoral authority of the bishop. And for the first time in my life I came to see that, as a Catholic, I would owe my obedience on earth not to a trustee, not to a council, not to a committee, not to a commission, but to a person; the person of the pope as the successor of Peter, who had a personal responsibility for feeding all the sheep of the Catholic Church. It was this personal understanding of the papacy which came through so powerfully’.
Mgr Graham Leonard KCVO, 1921-2010
(Anglican Bishop of London, 1981-1991)
Fr Lee Kenyon