Monday, 18 October 2010

Church of England parish sings battle hymns as it plans move to Rome

In the church of St Peter on the East Cliff in Folkestone, Kent, this morning, the sermon was of battles. It was the Trafalgar Day service – marking the 205th anniversary of Nelson's victory this Thursday – so, with many old sailors in the congregation, Camperdown was mentioned and Lepanto, the Glorious First of June and other long-gone actions at sea.

But it was another battle, in a different sort of see, that was clearly uppermost in the mind of the priest, Father Stephen Bould: his parish may be the first to defect wholesale from the Church of England to Rome following Pope Benedict XVI's offer of a safe harbour for Anglicans disaffected by their church's decision to allow women priests to become bishops.

Bould told his ageing flock: "It is a battle we are fighting now. Let's fight it with flair, imagination and spirit."

The high-Anglican Victorian church on the cliffs above the port has become the scene of the latest twist in the Church of England's agonizingly drawn-out wrestle over women's ministry, 16 years after its first female ordinations. Read more

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