08 February 2018
Synod to debate ‘new monasticism’
The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker (pictured), has told The Tablet he introduced a motion on new religious communities, being debated today (Saturday) at the Church of England General Synod, because “new monasticism” is happening on such a scale that it needs more formal recognition by the Church. Bishop Walker said there had been many such new expressions of religious communities springing up over the past decade and because they are not widely known about, the debate was a good opportunity to shine a light on them. He said such groupings are often ecumenical, with members who don’t live in community and who are married as well as single.
A Franciscan Tertiary, the bishop said people who are drawn to a particular aspect of mission or to the teaching of a particular saint, or a rule of life, often get to the point where they need a greater sense of belonging and accountability: “If someone is deeply committed in a parish they may want to surround themselves with others who have the same level of spiritual depth and passion.” As well as spreading awareness, the synod debate will pave the way for the drafting of a new canon “to provide a framework for religious life in the Church of England”. He said “1,500 years of Western monasticism” had informed these groups and many have clear structures around liturgy, a novitiate and the election of superiors.
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