The Archbishop of Canterbury is at the centre of a row after it emerged he had appointed a Freemason to be a bishop.
Dr Rowan Williams named the Rev Jonathan Baker as the next Bishop of Ebbsfleet despite knowing he was an active and senior mason.
The appointment, announced earlier this month, marked a significant U-turn by Dr Williams who had previously said that Freemasonry was “incompatible” with Christianity and had refused to promote Masons to senior posts.
Last week, as news of Fr Baker’s membership of the Masons began to circulate through the Church, it provoked growing concern and criticism from clergy and members of the General Synod.
When contacted by The Sunday Telegraph on Friday, Fr Baker defended his continued membership of the Masons and insisted it was compatible with his new role as a bishop.
Yet yesterday he said he had changed his mind was leaving the masons so he could concentrate on being a bishop, adding: “I wish nothing to distract from the inauguration of that ministry.”
Freemasonry, a secretive male-only organisation dating back 300 years, requires its members to declare a belief in a “supreme being” and to undergo elaborate rituals. Read more