The Society’s Council of Bishops welcomes the proposals being set out by the Archbishop of Canterbury for what is currently the See of Ebbsfleet and what would become the See of Oswestry. They would result in additional support being provided at a diocesan level to the Provincial Episcopal Visitor (PEV) for the western half of the Province of Canterbury. Such an arrangement would inevitably bring with it benefits for Society parishes in that area.

We feel it is important that, as part of this set of proposals, a senior priest of our integrity be based in the south-west of England and be tasked with supporting the work of the newly appointed bishop. This would support the Provincial Episcopal Visitor with an ongoing presence in that region and would facilitate closer working with the south-western dioceses.

On the See of Beverley vacancy, we are pleased to hear that good progress is being made towards an appointment and that, all being well, the successful candidate will be consecrated to the episcopate in the autumn of 2022.

We are mindful, particularly with two of the three PEV roles currently vacant, of the importance of us exhorting the faithful to attend Mass in person in Society parishes on a Sunday wherever that is feasible. The easing of the pandemic has led our brother Roman Catholic bishops in England and Wales to reintroduce the obligation to attend Mass in person on Sundays from the Solemnity of Pentecost, which is on 5 June this year.

We commend their words to you: “The Eucharist gives the Church her identity. It enables us to worship Almighty God, to support each other on our journey of faith, and to be a visible sign of faith in the world. This hallmark is supported and strengthened by the precept that our fundamental Christian duty is to worship God by participating in the celebration of Mass. Attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is the greatest of all privileges.”

+ TONY WAKEFIELD The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Wakefield,

Chairman of The Society’s Council of Bishops

+ PHILIP BURNLEY The Rt Revd Philip North, Bishop of Burnley
+ MARTIN CICESTR The Rt Revd Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester
+ JONATHAN FULHAM The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham
+ WILLIAM LEWES The Rt Revd Will Hazlewood, Bishop of Lewes
+ NORMAN RICHBOROUGH The Rt Revd Norman Banks, Bishop of Richborough