Bishop speaks out over defection to Rome

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An "anguished" Anglican bishop who has converted to Roman Catholicism over the issue of women bishops has spoken about his decision.

The Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Rev John Broadhurst, has decided to resign along with fellow bishops Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton.

They will be joined by the Rt Rev Edwin Barnes, former bishop of Richborough, and the Rt Rev David Silk, former Bishop of Ballarat in Australia.

Bishop Broadhurst said: "We have moved further and further away from the agreements we've made and people like me have become increasingly anguished about that.

"I'm not leaving the Church because I'm angry with it - I'm leaving because it's moving away from what I thought it was. I love the Church of England. We have a duty to follow our consciences in the end. It is in a precarious state and it's actually quite divided between conservatives and liberals in all sorts of areas."

The bishops will enter full communion with Rome through an ordinariate, a body proposed by the pope last October to let traditionalists convert while keeping some Anglican traditions, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales announced.

The ordinariate will let married clerics become Catholic priests, in an exception to the Vatican's celibacy rule, but not bishops. Married Anglican bishops who convert may be granted a special status almost equivalent to their former rank.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion, accepted the resignations of two bishops directly under his authority,, "with regret". He wished them well "in this next stage of their service" to the Christian faith.

The Catholic bishops' conference said in a statement: "We welcome the decision of Bishops Andrew Burnham, Keith Newton, John Broadhurst, Edwin Barnes and David Silk to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church."

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