Pages

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Anglican bishops in secret Vatican summit

Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Sunday Telegraph reports on the debate at the General Synod of the Church of England in York over amongst other things the issue of women bishops.

Apparently, senior Church of England bishops have held secret talks with Vatican officials to discuss the crisis in the Anglican communion over gays and women bishops.

"They met senior advisers of the Pope in an attempt to build closer ties with the Roman Catholic Church, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was not told of the talks and the disclosure will be a fresh blow to his efforts to prevent a major split in the Church of England.

In highly confidential discussions, a group of conservative bishops expressed their dismay at the liberal direction of the Church of England and their fear for its future. ...

The disclosure comes on the eve of a critical vote as members of the General Synod – the Church's parliament – prepare to decide whether to allow women to be bishops without giving concessions to staunch opponents.

Up to 600 clergy gave warning in a letter to Dr Williams that they may leave the Church unless they receive a legal right to havens within the Church free of women bishops.

In separate developments, three diocesan bishops wrote to the archbishop supporting the threat and two other bishops have said they are preparing to leave the Church. The letter from the Bishops of Chichester, Blackburn and Europe – seen by The Sunday Telegraph – argues that traditionalist clergy will not be able to "maintain an honoured place" in the Church without sufficient legislation.

"Clearly the ordination of women as bishops would divide the Church of England even more fundamentally than the ordination of women as priests," it says.

...

"These are the presenting issues that have made talks necessary, but our concerns go much deeper than these rows to issues of basic doctrine," [one] bishop said. "I have to be loyal to the parishes in my diocese and to the Gospel and that’s why I felt I had to do something."

Another bishop said: "The internal pressure of the Anglican communion has pushed us apart and we’re committed to greater unity with Rome. There can be no future for Christianity in Europe without Rome."