Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 26, 2010
Split over women bishops sparks exodus
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
LONDON - The largest Anglo-Catholic group in the Church of England is expecting an exodus of thousands of Anglicans to Catholicism after a decision to ordain women as bishops without sufficient concessions to traditionalists.
Stephen Parkinson, director of Forward in Faith - a group that has about 10,000 members, including more than 1,000 clergy - said that a large number of Anglo-Catholics are considering conversion to the Catholic faith.
His comments came after the General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England, voted at a meeting in York to approve the creation of women bishops by 2014 without meeting the demands of objectors.
A July 12 statement from Forward in Faith advised members against hasty action, saying now was "not the time for precipitate action."
"This draft measure does nothing for us at all," said Parkinson. "We explained very carefully why we could not accept women bishops theologically.
"We explained what would enable us to stay in the Church of England, but the General Synod has decided to get rid of us by giving us a provision that does not meet our needs," he said.
"They are saying either put up or shut up and accept innovations, however unscriptural or heretical, or get out."
Parkinson said he expected thousands of members of Forward in Faith to consider accepting Pope Benedict's offer of a personal ordinariate, issued last November in which a group of Anglicans can be received into the Catholic Church while retaining their distinctive patrimony and liturgical practices.
"Many, I expect, will be exploring the provisions of Pope Benedict's apostolic constitution. We have got 10,000 members, so clearly we are talking about thousands," he added.
SAID 'YES' TO THE POPE
A number of breakaway national Anglican churches have already written to the Vatican to accept the pope's offer.
The defection of thousands of mainstream Anglican traditionalists from the Church of England would represent the largest single block.
The Church of England first voted to ordain women as priests in 1992, a move that led to about 500 clergy defecting to the Catholic Church.
Since 1994, when the changes came into force, more than 5,000 women have been ordained as Anglican priests.
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