Carey summons rebel bishop

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Religious Affairs Correspondent

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, has summoned one of his "flying bishops" to Lambeth Palace after he called on the Church to renounce female priests three years after the General Synod decided to ordain them.

The Rt Rev Edwin Barnes, Bishop of Richborough, is one of the three "flying bishops" specially appointed to minister to opponents of female priests.

In the last 10 years, female priests and their supporters have been compared to the Aids virus, to witches who should be burnt at the stake, and to an army of occupying Nazis. Those who used these terms were not laymen but priests, even bishops.

Their views would be shared by two of the three most senior bishops: the Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope, and the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, both of whom have been appointed since the General Synod voted in November 1992 to ordain women.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, has called some opponents of female priests "heretics". He later withdrew the remark, but it does seem to represent his opinion of those who hold that a woman can never be a priest, including the Rt Rev Edwin Barnes, who called at the weekend for a campaign to repeal the 1992 legislation.

All this is the sour fruit of a compromise hastily assembled after the Synod vote. The official doctrine is now that some women are priests, but no one has to believe even that women can be priests. The consequence is both sides feel betrayed.

So far, 1500 women have been ordained as priests. Yet stories from all over the country show that the women have the greatest difficulty finding jobs.

The opponents of female priests are organised by Forward in Faith, whose chairman, Fr John Broadhurst, over the weekend compared his enemies to a Nazi occupying army.