Friday 24 November 2017

Church of England cleric compares supporters of women bishops to Nazis

Andy Bloxham

A senior cleric in the Church of England has compared the ordination of women bishops to the Nazi invasion.

The Right Rev Wallace Benn, the Bishop of Lewes, told the Reform conference of conservative Anglicans: “I feel very much increasingly that we’re in January of 1939. We need to be aware that there is real serious warfare just round the corner.”

His analogy angered Jewish groups as it was in that month that Hitler outlined his intent to kill Europe’s Jews.

James Smith, chairman of the Holocaust Centre, said the comparison “belittles both the scale of the suffering the Nazis caused and the scale of the moral challenge they represented”.

He added: “The Christian Church, with the exception of a few brave clerics, abjectly failed to respond appropriately to the Holocaust at the time, and has yet to fully address the implications of that failure.”

Sally Barnes, of the campaign group Women and the Church, said: “I am really sorry that a man who is a Christian is talking in these terms.”

Bishop Benn later attempted to clarify his remarks and said: “I was thinking in terms of the storm clouds being on the horizon.”

He said he intended his remarks to be Churchillian rather than thinking of Hitler.

The issue of women bishops continues to drive divisions within the Church of England but it is not due to be debated by its council until next year.

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