Saturday, July 12, 2008


ABC News reports:

A Leederville-based religious community will close after its leader was forced to step down amid sexual misconduct allegations.

The Leader of the Bethel Covenant Community, Kevin Horgan, resigned earlier this year over allegations he had groped the breast of some female members.

An article on this community at Catholica Australia (it's a bit slow to load) tells us:

The Bethel Covenant Community grew out of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement in the 1970s. It eventually established itself in the Perth Suburb of West Leederville as a Covenant Community with some form of canonical approval (i.e. official Church approval) in the 1980s under the previous Archbishop of Perth, the Most Rev William Foley....

In early April this year allegations of sexual impropriety, financial irregularities and disquiet over "cult-like activities" first began to reach more public attention through the complaints of existing and former members of the community. ...

There have been a number of forced resignations of leaders of the community in recent months culminating in the resignation or retirement of the founding leaders of the community, Mr Kevin Horgan and Mr Frank Carr. Allegations have been raised on the website of a tardy response by the Church authorities when the allegations were first raised privately with them. ...

The matter will be difficult and sensitive for Perth's present Catholic Archbishop, Barry Hickey, as the man at the centre of the allegations, the founder of the Bethel Community and its leader for so many years, Mr Kevin Horgan, is a member of a prominent Catholic family in Western Australia which was previously connected with the financial embarrassment the Catholic Church in Perth experienced in the early 1990s. ...

Vox reports on the abuses at Bethel which have included:

- The abusive personality of community leader Kevin Horgan

- A desire on the part of Horgan and his assistant Frank Carr to create an empire with a comfortable lifestyle for themselves

- Horgan posed as a Psychologist when he had only a BA in Human Development

- The community was elitist, arrogant and closed. It quickly fell out of favor with the Renewal movement.

Perhaps the most damaging information offered by VOX, however, is the following:

In 2007, personal accounts alleging sexual impropriety by Mr Horgan began to resurface. These stories involved the fact that he had done before and after inspections (viewing and touching) of about a dozen women who he had encouraged to have breast enhancement surgery. There were numerous examples of him groping women, feeling them up, stripping them down to their underwear in his office, a continuing parade of aggressive and controlling behaviour towards people and a series of new complaints about money matters.

Did Horgan have a messiah complex? As I was reading the above complaint, I couldn't help but reflect on the claim made by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, author of CONFRONTING POWER AND SEX IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, on pg. 12, a quote which I blogged yesterday:

The worst case is that of the 'messiah complex', where a person believes that God is calling him or her to be, as it were, a messiah, a chosen one who is called to some special mission and is, therefore, above the rules that apply to ordinary mortals, including the moral rules. In such cases, if sexual abuse does not occur, some other form of abusive behaviour will.

Both the Bethel community and Bishop Robinson are part of the Catholic culture in Australia, and it would appear that Bethel justifies Bishop Robinson's claim.

BishopAccountability.org has taken note of a program and website, "Four Corners" (click the link for "The God of Broken Hearts"), which has delved into the activities of the Bethel Covenant Community and reported their findings. The website also carries a long and detailed account of what has been happening at Bethel, reiterating claims made in other sources.


Barney Zwartz at the Australian paper The Age has written an insightful article comparing and contrasting the Papacy of John Paul II to Benedict's. He sees Benedict as emerging from the shadow of John Paul into a light of his own making, and he believes that light is good for the Church in a number of ways. It's an upbeat story worth reading.


A story from the Chicago Tribune tells of Latin Mass at The Most Holy Trinity of the Pilgrim church con-celebrated (?) by three priests, and attended by "dozens" of worshippers. The parish has been designated a "personal parish" according to the story. Is that something new? I haven't heard of it before.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Some writers believe that World Youth Day corrupts Catholic youth. An article from The West Australian website would seem to back them up:

Even true believers fail to follow Vatican line Legend has it that rubbish collectors in Rome made a startling discovery at the end of World Youth Day 2000. Hundreds of thousands of young Catholics had flocked to the Italian capital to attend celebrations culminating in a Mass presided over by Pope John Paul II.

When it was all over, the collectors sifted through debris left behind on a field transformed by participants into a gigantic campsite during the week-long duration of the religious fest.

Their find: thousands of used condoms.


by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson

Yesterday I promised quotes, so I'll deliver some.

From the Introduction:

Spiritual power is arguably the most dangerous power of all....The worst case is that of the 'messiah complex', where a person believes that God is calling him or her to be, as it were, a messiah, a chosen one who is called to some special mission and is, therefore, above the rules that apply to ordinary mortals, including the moral rules. (p. 12)

While the abuse of children has been the object of almost all attention, there has also been abuse of adults, especially women, and this, too, has caused great harm to the victims. It has not received attention because the police have normally responded that it appeared to be a consenting relationship and so no crime had been committed. In almost all cases, however, there has been the sexualising of a pastoral relationship, and in many cases an abuse of spiritual power to obtain sexual favours. It is hard not to see celibacy as contributing to these cases of abuse of adult women. (p. 16)

There is one other way in which celibacy has contributed to abuse. A significant reason why the response of many church authorities has been poor is that many bishops and religious superiors, not being parents themselves, have not appreciated just how fiercely, and even ferociously, parents will act to defend their children from harm. If they had been parents, there would surely have been a more decisive response. (p. 18) [I've said the same thing myself.]

'How many abused children is celibacy worth?' (p. 19)

Granted the present structures of the church, what we must cry out for is a pope who will say publicly, 'Yes, I am genuinely serious about confronting both abuse and the response to abuse, and I will ruthlessly change whatever needs to be changed in order to overcome both of these problems. (p. 20)

When, in front of several journalists at a public meeting, I answered a victim's question by saying that I was not happy with the level of support we were receiving from 'Rome', I received an official letter (7 August 1996) expressing 'the ongoing concern of the Congregation for Bishops that you have in recent months expressed views that are seriously critical of the magisterial teaching and discipline of the Church.' I was told that "in a recent audience, the Holy Father has been fully apprised of your public position on these issues and He has shown "serious preoccupation in your regard.' Two months later (16 October 1996) I received a further letter informing me that 'The relevant documentation will be forwarded, for its information and review, to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith', implying that I was suspected of some form of heresy. (p. 21)

I eventually came to the point where I felt that, with the thoughts that were running through my head, I could not continue to be a bishop of a church about which I had such profound reservations. I resigned my office as Auxiliary Bishop in Sydney and began to write this book about the very foundations of power and sex within the church. (p. 22)

More tomorrow...


Paul Zachary Myers, a biology Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota Morris, in reacting to the story out of Florida of a student who took a consecrated host captive, has pledged to desecrate the Eucharist publicly if someone will just obtain for him a consecrated host.

Catholic League's William Donohue has taken him on, involving the president of Myers' university because Myers' blog is linked on a university website.

Paul Walsh, at the Star-Tribune, identifies Myers as an Atheist.


One result of the sexual abuse crisis in the Church has been the institution of background checks on any adult who volunteers to help out at school. There has been compliance with relatively little protest that has made news coverage.

Across the pond there is a school policy of criminal investigation for an adult who comes onto school property to assist. That policy extends to school transportation vehicles as well as school property.

In a strange case reported by the Daily Mail, a mother is barred from accompanying her severely ill son in the taxi used by the school system to transport him 5 miles to school because she has not passed the Criminal Records Bureau check. The son is epileptic and requires special medical intervention when he has a seizure that only his parents are trained to provide, which is why his mother wishes to accompany him.

In reading the story, what comes to mind is Gestapo tactics invading and dividing the family. Could the background checks be used here in America in a similar fashion to separate children from their parents? I'm inclined to believe that it could, especially if someone in power in the school system has an ax to grind with a parent. That's scary.

The Daily Mail carries another story about children age 11 to 12 who were punished with detention for refusing to pray to Allah:

Two schoolboys were given detention after refusing to kneel down and 'pray to Allah' during a religious education lesson.

Parents were outraged that the two boys from year seven (11 to 12-year-olds) were punished for not wanting to take part in the practical demonstration of how Allah is worshipped.

They said forcing their children to take part in the exercise at Alsager High School, near Stoke-on-Trent - which included wearing Muslim headgear - was a breach of their human rights.

One parent, Sharon Luinen, said: "This isn't right, it's taking things too far.

"I understand that they have to learn about other religions. I can live with that but it is taking it a step too far to be punished because they wouldn't join in Muslim prayer.

"Making them pray to Allah, who isn't who they worship, is wrong and what got me is that they were told they were being disrespectful....

Another parent Karen Williams said: "I am absolutely furious my daughter was made to take part in it and I don't find it acceptable.

"I haven't got a problem with them teaching my child other religions and a small amount of information doesn't do any harm.

"But not only did they have to pray, the teacher had gone into the class and made them watch a short film and then said 'we are now going out to pray to Allah'....

"Not only was it forced upon them, my daughter was told off for not doing it right.

"They'd never done it before and they were supposed to do it in another language."

Read the story here...

If I were to project these two stories into the future, I can envision a situation in which Islam is the dominant religion in a European country and school children are forced to participate in that religion even if their parents object. That parental objection, depending upon its nature, might violate a future law, leaving a parent with a criminal record that would prohibit the parent from stepping onto school property, even if it is necessary to aid a sick child.


Thursday, July 10, 2008


London, Jul 10, 2008 / 11:11 am (CNA).- The Rt. Reverend Andrew Burnham, the Anglican Bishop of Ebbsfleet, has made public his plans to come into communion with the Roman Catholic Church and bring his flock with him. His move follows the Church of England’s decision on Monday to allow women bishops to be ordained....

Reacting to the news of debate taking place on Monday, Bishop Burnham said in a message, “I was aware that, in York, my job description was being demolished almost as I spoke.”

Bishop Burnham is one of three bishops in the Church in England that are officially called Provincial Episcopal Visitors but are more commonly known as “flying bishops.” These bishops oversee parishes that refuse to recognize women priests and now women bishops....

The General Synod that approved the ordination of women bishops is planning to draft a code of practice designed to accommodate those who won’t accept women bishops, but Bishop Burnham said, “Codes of practice are shifting sands. The sacramental life of the Church must be built on rock.”...

Damian Thompson, the editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald and a lead writer for the newspaper, Daily Telegraph, reports that the Rt. Rev Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough and Bishop Andrew Burnham both flew to Rome for discussions about joining the Catholic Church.


The Holy See's balance –which includes the expenses of the different dicasteries and offices of the Roman Curia- reported incomes for 236,737,207 euros and expenses of 245,805,167 leaving a deficit of 9,067,960 euros. The posting of a deficit is a dramatic down turn from the surpluses reported 2004, 2005 and 2006, which netted a combined income of 15,206,587.

The main contributors to the Vatican’s dip into the red are Vatican Radio and the newspaper L'Osservatore Romano in their different languages, including the daily Italian edition. The two media providers required a combined 14.6 million euros for their expenses in 2007.


Perhaps you recall the name from a story I blogged recently about Cardinal Mahony barring him from speaking in Los Angeles. If not, here is the Catholic World News account.


Why would a dissident like Cardinal Mahony ban another dissident from speaking in his diocese? It didn't make sense. I bought the book--CONFRONTING POWER AND SEX IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: RECLAIMING THE SPIRIT OF JESUS--and have just finished reading it.

Before I get into the contents, a little background on the author.

First, turn to the website of the Archdiocese of Sydney where Bishop Robinson is featured on this webpage.

- He was born in 1937 and retired in 2004 at age 67 for reasons of ill health.
- He served on the staff of the Catholic Institute of Sydney as a lecturer in Canon Law
- He was appointed chair of the Sydney Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Board in 1986
- He has served as Chairman of the NSW Catholic Education Commission
- He has an honorary doctorate from Australian Catholic University

The diocesan website also tells us

By taking a proactive role in devising processes within the Church for the prevention of sexual abuse, he has made an enormous contribution world-wide towards raising the consciousness of Church leaders to their responsibilities in this very difficult and sensitive area, and to developing appropriate and compassionate pastoral responses to those who have been hurt. He is the foundation chair of Encompass Australasia, a psychosexual programme established in 1997 jointly by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes for Church personnel who were guilty of offences against children or of adult boundary violations. He has overseen the development of Encompass to provide specialist psychological services for people in helping professions struggling with psychological issues or wanting to enhance their ability to live life with vitality.

Archbishop Pell, a recognized leader in Catholic orthodoxy, is the Archbishop of Sydney. Robinson worked under him.

An interview with Robinson at Beliefnet reveals that Robinson, himself, was sexually abused and did not confront the issues it provoked until he began working with sexual abuse victims. It also reveals that Robinson is basically a humble man.

His website gives the Itinerary of the US Lecture Tour. From that it can be discovered that VOTF was a major promoter of his lectures. He has also been sponsored by a New York Catholic church, a Lutheran church, Fairfield University, the Paulist Center in Boston, the University of Toronto, FutureChurch, Call to Action, the University of California at San Diego, a Neighborhood center, and Dignity. Both Richard Sipe and Fr. Thomas Doyle have acted as contacts for one of his lectures.

His statement, given on the day the book was released, Oct. 17, 2007, reveals the flavor of the contents:

...on a recent visit to the United States, [the Cardinal Secretary of State at the Vatican, Cardinal Bertone] was asked about sexual abuse and first blamed the media, then greedy lawyers, then said that the Church had "faced this trial with great dignity and courage" and hoped that "other institutions and social agencies will face the same problem with their members with an equal degree of courage and realism as the Catholic Church has done."...it is discouraging to hear that [this attitude] still prevails at the highest levels. It is a typical example of seeking to manage rather than confront a problem.

As long as the Church seeks to manage rather than confront, the devastating effect the scandal has had on the Church will continue and will cripple other activities. Of what use is it to proclaim a “new evangelization” to others if we are not seen to have confronted the suppurating ulcer on our body? In all our preaching to others, we would lack credibility. Cardinal Bertone does not seem to realize just how much credibility the Church has lost over the last twenty years and how seriously we must act in order to regain it.

Over that time most of the blame has been poured onto the bishops. I am not simply seeking to divert this blame, far less to defend every action of every bishop, if I say that it is important to understand that, within the present structures of the Church, the pope alone has the power to confront this problem in its deepest sources.

One must ask, “Where is the papal statement addressed directly to victims, with the word ‘sorry’ proclaimed clearly? Where is the papal promise to investigate every possible source of abuse and ruthlessly to eradicate it? Where is the request to those institutes especially set up to treat offending priests to present their findings on the causes? Where is the request to the bishops to coordinate the studies in their territory and report to Rome? Where is the document placing everything on the table for discussion, including such things as obligatory celibacy and the selection and training of candidates? With power go responsibilities. The pope has many times claimed the power and must accept the corresponding responsibilities.

As I read that I reflected that it was not that long afterward that Pope Benedict, on his visit to the U.S., did apologize to the victims. So perhaps the process that Robinson claims is mandatory has begun. In reading the book, I came to like Bishop Robinson. Though I was not always in sympathy with his suggestions, there are parts of the book with which I heartily agree. Some of the questions he asks are questions I've asked as well.

Tomorrow I'll post quotes from the book.


According to Catholic Hierarchy, Auxiliary Bishop Quinn retired on June 14 of this year. It was a very quiet event here in Akron!

I believe this means that we no longer have any auxiliary bishops in Cleveland. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


A bishop in the Church of England has become the first to announce he is ready to convert to Roman Catholicism following the decision to ordain women bishops without compromise measures for traditionalists.

The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, has called on the Pope as well as Catholic leaders in England and Wales to help him and his parishioners defect to Rome.

He hopes entire parishes under his control will convert but be allowed to remain worshipping in their existing churches, while guided by Catholic bishops.

Bishop Burnham, one of the three "flying bishops" in England who look after parishes which do not want women priests, has already been to the Vatican to discuss a possible move.

Continue reading...

The bishop would like to bring 120 parishes along with their churches into the Roman Catholic fold along with him.


A GROUP of glamour lesbians who believe the world was created by an alien civilisation 25,000 years ago have criticised the Catholic Church for being out of touch.

The representatives of the Gay Raelian society yesterday staged a demonstration outside Parliament House to protest the Pope's arrival for World Youth Day next week.

Raelian spokeswoman Eden Bates said it was an insult that the Pope would be welcomed into Australia when "our gorgeous, fantastic spiritual leader Rael wasn't even given the respect of a visa".

Read the rest...


Published: July 9, 2008
“Roman Catholic institution?”

University of San Diego awards honorary professorship to feminist theologian who supports abortion and contraception, and who holds variety of other dissident views

A “feminist theologian” who thinks that God can be called “Gaia,” after the Roman mother-earth goddess, has accepted a one-year honorary professorship at the University of San Diego, according to an announcement by the school, which describes itself on its web site as “a Roman Catholic institution.” Rosemary Radford Ruether will hold the Monsignor John R. Portman Chair in Roman Catholic Theology at USD for the academic year 2009-2010.

Besides being a regular columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, Ruether holds multiple professorships, has 12 honorary doctorates, and has written a long list of books, including Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing (1992), Goddesses and the Divine Feminine: A Western Religious History (2005), and America, Amerikkka: Elect Nation and Imperial Violence (2007). As Portman Chair at USD, Ruether will teach one undergraduate course in the fall of 2009 and will deliver the annual Portman Lecture.


Here is the University webpage which gives the Mission Statement, where it can clearly be seen that the University is taking pride in it's Catholic identity.

Another webpage specifically touts the Catholic identity.

Here is the USD webpage announcing Reuther's appointment.

Reuther is listed on the Dissenting Authors and Speakers List of Our Lady's Warrriors in three categories.

1. Founder of Call to Action
2. Eco-Feminist theology
3. Promotes Catholics for Contraception, a project of the Catholics for a Free Choice organization


The Catholic World Youth Day protest group NoToPope Coalition has held what it calls an 'annoying fashion show' outside New South Wales Parliament to challenge the regulations surrounding next week's event.

Under the special regulations brought in for World Youth Day events, police have the power to arrest and fine people who annoy or inconvenience pilgrims.

In defiance of this, NoToPope coalition members have held a spoof catwalk fashion show, parading the T-short slogans and messages they plan to protest in.

Read all of it...


Patrick Archbold has developed a marketing strategy to promote the reform of the Novus Ordo to the parishes. It's clever. It's funny. It's loaded with wholesomness.

When I heard the report at the end of last week that Pope Benedict has asked the Congregation for Divine Worship to study some potential changes to the liturgy, I got very excited. Think about all the possibilities! Think about what the Mass could be, rather than what it often is. The abuses and experiments, gone! The tawdry celebration of self, gone! Latin back in its proper place! Gregorian Chant! The priest's magnificent back on glorious display!

Don't miss reading it for your happy chuckle of the day. (You have to go over to his blog to see the best and funniest part.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


according to ABC online


The Vatican on Tuesday expressed disappointment over a decision by the Church of England to pave the way for ordaining women bishops, which it said was a step backwards for reconciliation with the Catholic Church.

The Pontifical Council for Christian Unity said it had learnt of the Church of England's decision ''with regret'', and warned that it would have ''consequences for future dialogue, which until now has been very fruitful''.

''This decision is a breach with the apostolic tradition maintained by all Churches from the first millennium, and for that reason it is a further obstacle for reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Church of England,'' the council said.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has invited council head Cardinal Walter Kasper to present the Catholic Church's position at the next Lambeth Conference at the end of July.

Following the vote, the Church of England now plans to draw up a code of practice aimed at pacifying traditionalist clerics - also known as 'Anglo-Catholics' - who have warned that ordaining women bishops is likely to cause a schism in the Church.

Continue reading...

An Anglican news service provides information on additional speakers at the upcoming sessions of the Lambeth Conference:

Two of the principal speakers at the conference come from the ecumenical world.

Cardinal Ivan Dias is head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, and deeply involved in the mission work of the Roman Catholic Church....

Brian McLaren is an American evangelical, the founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church, a prolific author, and an internationally recognised contributor to post-modern thought and culture....

Among other ecumenical participants at the conference are: Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Armenian Church; The Revd Dr Canon Joel Edwards, Evangelical Alliance, UK; The Revd Prof Robert Gribben, World Methodist Council; Metropolitan Kallistos of Diolkeia, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople; Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; The Revd Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches; The Revd Dr Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation; Patriarch Theophilus III, Patriarchate of Jerusalem; The Very Revd Prof Iain Torrance, World Alliance of Reformed Churches; The Revd Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe, Director of the World Evangelical Alliance. A full list of ecumenical participants will be available at the conference.

In addition to these ecumenical relationships, some member churches of the Anglican Communion have established full communion agreements with churches of other traditions, involving a complete mutual recognition of ministry and sacraments. Several representatives of these full communion partners will also participate in the conference: Archbishop Joris Vercammen and Bishop Joachim Vobbe, Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht; Bishop Ernst Baasland, Church of Norway; Metropolitan Mar Basilios, Malabar Independent Syrian Church; The Most Revd Godfredo David, Iglesia Filipina Independiente; Bishop Mark Hanson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Bishop Susan Johnson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; Archbishop Jukka Paarma, Finnish Lutheran Church; Bishop Ragnar Persenius, Church of Sweden; Archbishop Karl Sigurbjornsson, Icelandic Lutheran Church.

Looks to be quite a gathering of the churches, not unlike Vatican II.



No chemo this morning after all. My blood count is too low. It has to be delayed.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Following six hours of debate on Monday, which saw one bishop in tears, the Synod rejected both the super-bishops proposal as well as the traditionalists' preferred option of new dioceses for objectors.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Piggot said the vote had been conclusive and was accompanied by emotional scenes.

But traditionalists have warned that the decision could hasten the prospect of a split within the Church.

Conservatives who oppose the liberalisation of Church teaching on issues such as homosexuality have already set up the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FoCA), which has promised to set up a council of bishops.

During the debate at the University of York, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said he would be in favour of "a more rather than a less robust" form of accommodating traditionalists....

The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Bishop of Fulham and a traditionalist, told Newsnight that the vote could lead to a split.

"I think a lot of us have made it quite clear if there isn't proper provision for us to live in dignity, inevitably we're driven out," he said.

"It's not a case of walking away."

Read the entire BBC report here.


Those of you who were around the parishes in the 1970s are probably familiar with the problems created by a program called Renew. From my own experience of it, it was one of those feel good and play theologian programs all sappy with emotion that did little more than waste time that could have been better spent. It was a contributor to my decision to leave a liberal parish.

If you want a detailed account of the problems with Renew, check out Our Lady's Warriors extensive critique of the program.

Renew is still around, as their website indicates. They are influencing the Boston Archdiocese with a program called Arise Together in Christ.

Of greater concern is the teaming up of Theology on Tap with Renew which is also advertised on the Renew website at the drop down window labeled "Our Ministries." Theology on Tap looked like a program that could reach college age youths with the message of the gospel. It meets in bars where those young people often hang out. It teaches the faith in ways that it was hoped the students would respond to. Now, though, with this joining up with Renew, I would be quite unhappy to discover my child had gotten involved with it.

There are more links on this disturbing development at Threshing Grain.

Sunday, July 06, 2008


According to the UK Telegraph:

Senior Church of England bishops have held secret talks with Vatican officials to discuss the crisis in the Anglican communion over gays and women bishops.
They met senior advisers of the Pope in an attempt to build closer ties with the Roman Catholic Church, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was not told of the talks and the disclosure will be a fresh blow to his efforts to prevent a major split in the Church of England.

In highly confidential discussions, a group of conservative bishops expressed their dismay at the liberal direction of the Church of England and their fear for its future.

They met members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful of the Vatican's departments, the successor to the medieval Inquisition, which enforces doctrine and was headed by Pope Benedict XVI before his election.

The names of the bishops are known to The Sunday Telegraph, but they have asked for anonymity because the talks are of such a sensitive and potentially explosive nature.

The disclosure comes on the eve of a critical vote as members of the General Synod – the Church's parliament – prepare to decide whether to allow women to be bishops without giving concessions to staunch opponents.

Up to 600 clergy gave warning in a letter to Dr Williams that they may leave the Church unless they receive a legal right to havens within the Church free of women bishops.

In separate developments, three diocesan bishops wrote to the archbishop supporting the threat and two other bishops have said they are preparing to leave the Church. The letter from the Bishops of Chichester, Blackburn and Europe – seen by The Sunday Telegraph – argues that traditionalist clergy will not be able to "maintain an honoured place" in the Church without sufficient legislation.

"Clearly the ordination of women as bishops would divide the Church of England even more fundamentally than the ordination of women as priests," it says.

Continue reading...

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