The Deacon's Bench

Could the trickle of Anglicans leaving their church turn into a flood?

From the Telegraph:

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

Leading Anglo-Catholic clergy warned that the failure to provide concessions to opponents of the historic reform would force many of them to defect to Rome.

In a highly-charged debate at the General Synod, the Church’s parliament, members rejected a compromise deal put forward by the archbishops of Canterbury and York which would have averted a schism.

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.”

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