Anglican bishops in 'secret meeting' with Vatican over gay priests and women bishops row
The Daily Mail reported that:
Senior Church of England bishops have held secret talks with Vatican officials over the crisis issue of homosexual priests and women bishops in the Anglican Communion.
The bishops met senior advisers of Pope Benedict XVI to discuss the controversial topic, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
The news of the meeting comes ahead of a crucial vote tomorrow at the General Synod, the Church of England's ruling body, on how far to accommodate parishes and clergy who oppose women bishops.
The group of conservative bishops are said to have expressed dismay at the liberal direction of the Church of England and their fears for its future.
They met members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was headed by the Pope before he was elected Pontiff in 2005, it was said.
The meeting was reportedly part of an attempt to build closer ties with the Roman Catholic Church.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was not told of the talks, it was reported.
But a Church of England spokesman said: 'This is one of a plethora of stories on the internet and in print ahead of Monday's debate and it will be down to General Synod to determine the way ahead on this issue.'
Up to 600 clergy have written to Dr Williams warning that they might leave the Church if safeguards such as dioceses for opponents of women bishops are not set up.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that in a separate development, three diocesan bishops of the Church of England have written to Dr Williams supporting the threat and another has said he is 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.
The reports come after the creation of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, a worldwide network opposed to liberalisation of Church teaching on issues such as homosexuality.
The Lambeth Conference, the 10-yearly meeting of the bishops of the Anglican Communion is also due to meet later this month in Canterbury, Kent.
No-one was available for comment at the Catholic Church of England and Wales.
Lambeth Palace declined to add any more to the statement from the Church of England.
The Rt Rev Kieran Conry, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, said: 'A number of Church of England bishops are looking at the options open to them should things go wrong at the Lambeth Conference.'
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