Fifth of Anglican Clergy May Quit over Women "Bishops"
More Than Half of Traditionalists Oppose the Idea, Survey Finds
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LONDON, JUNE 30, 2002 (Zenit.org).- One-fifth of the Anglican clergy indicated that they might leave the Church of England if women were allowed to be designated bishops, a new survey finds.
Eight years since women were first allowed to be designated as Anglican priests, 25% of clergy and 17% of laity believe that there "should not be any women bishops anywhere," the Times reported.
The Catholic Church has always held that the priesthood of Christ is restricted to men; hence, the question of women bishops is moot.
Among Anglicans, however, about half of the clergy and 60% of the laity support the idea of women bishops. But 20% of clergy indicated that they might go so far as to leave the Anglican Communion, with 5% signaling a definite intention to leave.
The traditionalist group Cost of Conscience commissioned Christian Research, a leading research body, to probe the views and beliefs of Anglican clergy and laity.
Results of the survey were published Friday in advance of this week's meeting of the General Synod, when the Anglican bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, will lead a presentation on the question of ordaining women bishops.
Just 26% of Anglo-Catholics (they were formerly called High-Church Anglicans) were looking forward to women bishops, compared with 71% liberals and 47% of evangelicals, the survey said. More than half of the High Churchmen said there should not be any women bishops, compared with 5% of liberals and 29% of evangelicals.
The Times said that the extent of opposition to the notion of female bishops is surprising because many traditionalists have already left the Anglican church over the issue of women's ordination. Since the first "priestly" ordinations of women in 1994, more than 400 male Anglican clergy have left the ministry.