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Hundreds of traditionalist clergy poised to leave Church of England

Hundreds of traditionalist clergy poised to leave Church of England
Hundreds of traditionalist clergy are set to leave the Church of England over plans to introduce women bishops.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
The Telegraph
July 12, 2010

The archbishops' plans would have seen the creation of a new class of male-only bishops to look after conservative evangelical and Anglo-Catholic parishes opposed to female leadership in the Church.

Canon David Houlding, a prebendary at St Paul's cathedral, estimated that as many as 200 traditionalist clergy could leave the Church, taking thousands of worshippers with them.

"People's patience is running out and many will now be asking whether they should try and practice their Catholic faith in the Church of England," he said.

"The vote was a severe blow to the archbishop [of Canterbury] and it has pushed us closer to the door."

A group of 70 traditionalist clergy met with a Catholic bishop on Saturday to discuss plans to defect to the Roman Catholic Church. Earlier this year three bishops travelled to the Vatican to talk over an offer made by Pope Benedict XVI inviting disillusioned Anglicans to convert to Catholicism.

Fr Jonathan Baker, principle of Pusey House and a leading traditionalist, warned that young Anglo-Catholic priests will struggle to see a future in the Church of England.

"It is bound to be more difficult to hold on to people now," he said. "How can you stay in a family where members of the family have no need of you."

Dr John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, told the Daily Telegraph he was disappointed the last-ditch compromise plan had failed.

"We must be magnanimous and meet people half-way," he said. "The Church of England must cater for everyone. I have never been part of a particular group or faction - I'm an Anglican and Anglicanism has always been the middle way."

He called on the Church to "start behaving like Christians", but refused to contemplate an exodus of clergy, describing himself as "a prisoner of hope".

The Synod will continue to debate the issue of women bishops today as the Church continues to search for a way to prevent a split.

There remain questions over how those who plan to defect to Rome would survive financially as they would probably lose their pensions, pay and houses.



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