Anglicans look to Rome
The Church of England’s endorsement of women bishops is causing serious damage to its relations with the Roman Catholic Church. It is thought that hundreds of clergy may choose to defect to Rome rather than continue as Anglicans, notwithstanding the accommodations made at the recent Synod of the Church of England in York.
Among those considering conversion to Catholicism are a number of bishops. Secret meetings, The Daily Telegraph reports, have already taken place. One bishop, who wished to remain anonymous, 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’.
This is music to Roman Catholic ears. The pope’s personal enthusiasm for bringing traditional Anglicans into the fold was shown in 2003 when as cardinal he sent greetings to a group of conservative churchmen meeting in Texas, in protest at the election of Bishop Gene Robinson.
English Catholics are also extending a welcoming hand. A former aide to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, quoted in the Telegraph said that the dialogue with the Anglican bishops only started after the crisis in the Anglican Communion worsened. ‘It is obvious things are starting to fall apart and Rome wants to be able to help if it can’, he said.
One leading traditionalist, the Bishop of Beverley, the Rt Rev. Martyn Jarrett, said, ‘In the tragic circumstances that the Church of England takes decisions which make it impossible to walk with it any more, we would want to understand more where we are in relation to wider Catholic Christendom’.