The first entire parish has voted to leave the Church of England and return to Rome, it emerged October 15. On the same day, a fourth Church of England bishop, John Broadhurst, the bishop of Fulham, announced that he too would become Catholic.
“Some are now talking openly of an ‘exodus’ from the Anglican Communion next year, with thousands following Folkestone’s lead,” wrote the Telegraph’s religion journalist Tim Ross. “The archbishop of Canterbury, from whose back yard the revolt has sprung, can be in little doubt about the seriousness of the threat.”
The local parish and the Church of England seem set for a fight over who gets to keep control of the church buildings.
Broadhurst is one of the Church of England’s most influential traditional bishops. He is chairman of the traditionalist movement “Forward in Faith.” As he announced that he planned to resign as a bishop at the end of the year at a meeting of Forward in Faith in London, the group applauded and cheered. “I don’t feel I have any choice but to leave the church and take up the pope’s offer,” he said.
Broadhurst accused the General Synod, the ruling body of the Church of England, of being “vindictive” and “vicious” in how it has treated Anglo-Catholics. “It has been fascist in its behavior, marginalizing those who have been opposed to women’s ordination,” he said. “We have not been given any space.”
On October 19, conservatives in the Church of England warned that they would block the introduction of women bishops in the Church of England when it comes to vote in 2012.
“Following the election of the new General Synod of the Church of England, Evangelical and Catholic Groups on Synod have now swapped lists of candidates,” they wrote in a press release. “The results show that 66 clergy (32.1 percent) and 77 laity (35.46 percent) will vote against the current women bishop legislation unless it is amended to give those who for conscious/scriptural reasons, cannot accept WBs.”
Those who want to allow women bishops need a two-thirds majority among both the clergy and laity in the Synod to get their way. “I don’t want to sound melodramatic,” writes the Telegraph’s blog editor, Damian Thompson, “but could this be the start of a civil war?”