Catholics Warn of Irreparable Damage if CofE Introduces Women Bishops

The Church of England has come under heavy criticism from the Roman Catholic Church after its continued plans to admit women bishops. The Roman Catholic Church has warned that the reform would “radically impair the relationship between the two large Church bodies".

|TOP|The Catholic bishops, in an official paper, commented that consecrating women bishops was a “tremendous and intolerable risk”, and stated that if the plans came into fruition, that they could cause “irreparable damage”, inside as well as outside the Anglican Church.

The Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, in attempts to increasingly reconcile their faiths, have drawn up statements on how they can work together. However, the Catholic bishops in their statement said that inviting women bishops into the Church was a step completely at odds with the “texts and spirit” of their recent agreements.

Historically, the Catholic Church’s opposition to women priests and bishops has been very clear, but still the harsh and rebuking tone of the document will alarm the Church of England Head, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams.

Since the days of King Henry VIII, the Church of England and the Catholic traditions have gone their separate ways, however, the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, Dr Williams has often called for a greater unity between the Anglican and Catholic traditions.

|AD|Dr Williams became the first ever serving Archbishop of Canterbury that has attended a papal funeral earlier this year when Pope John Paul II died. Similarly, the Archbishop lead an Anglican delegation to greet the new Pope the day after his inauguration.

In addition, despite obvious differences on issues such as homosexuality within the Church, Dr Williams has also sought to unite more closely with Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Head of the UK Catholic Church.

In July this year, the Church of England began its historical step to commence the process to allow women bishops into the Church, after bishops voted in favour of the proposals at a General Synod.

Following four hours of impassioned debate, the General Synod voted overwhelmingly in favour of beginning the process which will remove all legal obstacles to women becoming bishops within the Church.

This victory for pro-women campaigners is not without controversy, however, with critics warning of a possible split within the Church, and has now become apparent that it could possibly damage relations within as well as outside of the Church of England.

The proposals only just managed to secure the two-thirds majority in the House of Laity, which will be needed to conclude the legislation when it comes for its final approval in about seven years’ time.