Anglican women bishops dash unity hopes: Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor

Full Anglican-Catholic unity will be "out of reach" if Anglicans ordain women bishops, according to recent comments by Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's comments follow a bracing speech last week by Cardinal Walter Kasper to the Church of England's House of Bishops in which the head of the Vatican's Christian Unity Council warned of the consequences that would follow the Church's decision.

The Archbishop of Westminster told the UK Sunday program that as the Church of England moves towards ordaining women as bishops "we will more and more now exist, as it were, in parallel rather than converging towards the full communion, unity which we believe is the will of Christ."

Although the Church of England has not made a decision, the mechanism for deciding to admit women as bishops has been put in place.

The Cardinal's language marks a shift from his previous insistence over the years that the process towards unity was a "road without exit".

The Archbishop of Westminster stressed that "the relationship and the friendship and the cooperation between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church will continue" whatever the Church of England's decision.

But "we would be glad if this step was not taken," Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said.

The two cardinals' intervention comes at a testing time for the Anglican Communion, as the North-American Episcopalians (ECUSA) vote whether to accede to the Anglican primates' bar on practising homosexuals becoming bishops.

Cardinal speaks of sadness at prospect of end of Anglican unity process (Diocese of Westminster 12/6/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission

Cardinal tells Anglicans that women bishops would destroy unity (CathNews 8/6/06)
Anglican-Catholic talks to continue says Bishop (CathNews 2/3/06)

15 Jun 2006