'Substantial number' of clergy will leave over plans for women bishops
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 4:16PM BST 14 Aug 2008
Rt Rev Stephen Venner: 'Substantial number' of clergy will leave over plans for women bishops
A group of 14 traditionalist bishops claim that there are "irreconcilable differences" over historic reforms that would introduce women as bishops without giving proper concessions to oponents of the move.
In a letter to 1,400 clergy who have indicated that they are considering defecting from the Church of England, they are highly critical of a decision by the General Synod - the Church's parliament - to ignore proposals for a compromise over the divisive issue.
The Anglo-Catholic bishops have vowed to support clergy who feel unable to remain in the Church, but have pledged to fight for a better deal for traditionalists who do not believe women should be consecrated.
Signed by three senior bishops - the Rt Rev John Hind, Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, Bishop of Blackburn and the Rt Rev Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop in Europe - the letter will serve as a reminder to Dr Rowan Williams that there is still a battle ahead over making women bishops.
The letter - seen by The Daily Telegraph - says that current plans would lead to the "inevitable exclusion of substantial numbers of faithful Anglicans from the Church of England".
It continues: "Different decisions should be respected and supported, including that of those who have come to believe that fidelity to the faith we have received means that they can no longer remain within the communion of the Church of England.
"We are faced with apparently irreconcilable differences in matters of faith and order, and it is important to try to conduct all conversations and debates in a spirit of generosity even when church-dividing issues are at stake."
They urge clergy that this "is not a necessary conclusion", but admit to feeling pain, bewilderment and disappointment over the direction that the Church has taken in deciding women can be bishops with minimum provisions for objectors.
One bishop, the Rt Rev Stephen Venner - the Archbishop of Canterbury's deputy and himself a supporter of women bishops - was in tears following last month's vote.
"For the first time in my life I feel ashamed," he told the gathering in York. "We have talked for hours about how to give an honourable place for those who disagree.
"We have turned down almost every realistic opportunity for those who are opposed to flourish."
Upshot, ++Rowan sucks. NOBODY is happy with boo-key.
*Snark on* Would this really be a terrible thing? Maybe it would be good for job opportunities for some within CoE - especially with tales of shrinking attendance, closing churches,etc. *snark off*
ETA: James has posted something far less snarky and far more thoughtful at The Three Legged Stool: Faith once delivered -- the fundamentalist's best friend. He wonders, as I often have - "Now, I ask you, how can a Communion that has not come to a general consensus and a “resolution” on ordaining/consecrating women be expected to deal with GLB folks, and, Lord have mercy, Transgender persons?"
Excellent question. Pop over and have a read there too!