14 April 2014
The Archbishop of Canterbury Predicts
Those people who follow Anglican matters will be aware that the Archbishop of Canterbury took part in a phone-in programme recently, on which he made some very controversial remarks about the consequences for the people of Africa, if the Church of England decided to approve of same sex marriage. This has been widely reported. On the whole, I thought that Archbishop Welby performed rather well on the programme, despite having to discuss some issues that are very divisive for the Church of England. He came across as a very well meaning person, trying to grapple with some very difficult issues. It was clear to me that he was torn between the desire to uphold his personal orthodox beliefs, which were formed in the evangelical wing of the Church of England, and the need to be a credible leader of an increasingly liberal Church where almost everything goes. However, there was another notable comment made by the archbishop. In discussing the matter of women bishops, he enthusiastically supported their ordination, and looked forward to the first appointment, which he expected would be in early 2015. Then he came to the point. When asked what would become of those in the church who did not accept women bishops, he said "A few will go to the Catholic Church .... to the Ordinariate". So the archbishop expects the Ordinariate to benefit from a few who will leave the Church of England in the next year or so. I presume that the archbishop, when using the phrase a few, is talking in proportionate terms - that is not many in relation to the total membership of the C of E. Maybe less than one per cent. Are we talking of 1,000 or maybe 10,000? We do not know, but I think it will be in this range, and a disproportionate number of them will be clergy.