Bishop says Anglican refugees not wanted

As the vote for women bishops in the Church of England leads to predictions of more defections, a Roman Catholic bishop in the UK has said Anglican clerics opposed to the ordination of women bishops should not be received into the Catholic Church for "negative reasons".

Catholic News Service reports that Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, one of the UK's leading Catholic ecumenists, spoke amid rising speculation that the vote taken by the Church of England on Monday to remove legal obstacles to the episcopal ordination of women would lead to mass defections of traditionalist clergy.

Bishop Lang (pictured), co-chairman of the English Anglican-Roman Catholic Committee, a group that meets twice a year to promote ecumenical projects and the joint study of theology, said mechanisms existed within the English Catholic Church to receive married Anglican ministers and even to ordain them as Catholic priests.

"When there was the ordination of women in the first place there were some Anglicans who applied to be received into the Catholic Church, and the same provision is there at the moment," he told Catholic News Service. "But there is an understanding that you don't come into the Catholic Church for a negative reason.

"Those Anglican priests who were received into the church were received for positive reasons - for example, that they accepted the teaching authority of the church," he said.

About 400 English Anglican clerics converted to Catholicism after the General Synod of the Church of England voted to ordain women in 1992, and a number of them - married and single - became Catholic priests.

The vote for women bishops has led to predictions of more defections, with Anglican Bishop Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet telling The Sunday Times newspaper at the weekend that he would join the Catholic Church along with about 800 Anglican ministers if the Church of England failed to provide a "third province" with an all-male clergy.

Bishop Lang said he did not think the decisive vote by all three houses of the General Synod of the Church of England, meeting at York University, would harm relations between the Catholic and Anglican churches.

14 of the world's 38 Anglican churches already have decided to allow women bishops.

Bishop says fleeing Anglicans must join church for positive reasons (Catholic News Service 12/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Diocese of Clifton

Hundreds of clergy 'will leave church over women bishops' (London Telegraph 11/7/05)
Women win right to be bishops (The Australian 13/7/05)
Clergy warn against women bishops (BBC 10/7/05)
Church of England clears way for woman bishops (Catholic World News 12/7/05)

13 Jul 2005