Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The Guardian: Church leaders fear summer of strife over women and gay clergy

The Church of England faces a tense summer as it wrestles with the divisive issues of women bishops and gay clergy, a senior official said yesterday.

William Fittall, the secretary general of the general synod, the church's legislative body and national assembly, said a combination of public debates, a breakaway Anglican conference and the clash between conservatives and liberals was giving Christians cause for concern.

"There is no doubt that we are at an unsettled moment in the Church of England," said Fittall. "This was always going to be a big summer. [The] Lambeth [conference of bishops] is a big event in the wider communion and the fact that it is considering women bishops goes to the heart of what kind of church we want to be. The weekend's story has caused further anxiety on the part of many."

He was responding to the Bishop of London's decision to order an investigation into the "marriage" last month between two gay priests, the Rev Peter Cowell and the Rev David Lord, who exchanged rings and vows at St Bartholomew the Great church in the City of London.

A statement issued by the bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres, said services of public blessings for civil partnerships were not authorised. Read more
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