Vatican to welcome 50 clergy after women row
Published 14/11/2010 | 05:00
The Catholic Church will announce this week that 50 Anglican clergy are defecting to Rome following the Church of England's moves to introduce women bishops.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, will disclose on Friday that the Vatican plans to welcome the departing priests, including five bishops, who are expected to be received into the Catholic Church early in the new year.
Hundreds of Anglican churchgoers will join them in the Ordinariate -- a structure introduced by the Pope to provide refuge for those disaffected with the Church of England. The number of worshippers who leave the church is predicted to double as the new arrangement finally begins to take shape.
The Right Rev Andrew Burnham, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, said clergy were dismayed at the liberal direction of the Church of England and the way traditionalists had been treated. "There's only a certain amount of time you can accept being described as the National Front of the Church of England," he said.
"We're seen as out of date for not accepting women's ministry as equal,"
The bishop, who is one of the five converting to Catholicism, accused the church of repeatedly breaking its promises to make proper provision for opponents of the ordination of women. Members of the General Synod, the church's parliament, voted in July to proceed with plans to create women bishops with minimal concessions to the traditionalists.
Catholic bishops will hold talks in Leeds this week to discuss the most complicated issues facing the new arrangement, such as how the defecting clergy will be financially supported and whether they will be allowed to continue worshipping in their churches.