Gummer defects to Rome and brands Church of England 'a sect'
Tuesday 01 March 1994
Mr Gummer, 54, is the second government minister to convert. Ann Widdecombe, Under-Secretary of State for Employment, did so at Westminster Cathedral last April, saying she had been 'voluntarily excommunicated' by its decision to admit women. Mr Gummer made his move privately at the Church of the Sacred Heart, in Westminster. It was not unexpected. Last year, he resigned from the Church of England General Synod, its ruling body, when it voted for women priests.
But yesterday, the minster insisted the controversy was an irrelevance. 'It is not about whether women can do the job. The fact is the Church has always taught otherwise,' he maintained. 'I don't have a view about the ordination of women.'
In the past, however, he has asserted that God is undoubtedly the Father, not the Mother, and the Movement for the Ordination of Women yesterday said it was convinced there was an element of sexism underlying his move.
The question of whether women should be ordained was also raised by George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in a letter to Mr Gummer on Sunday. 'Many believe these women will bring a profound enrichment to (the) priesthood, reflecting more truly the pattern of the Incarnation, when God became human, not merely male,' he wrote.
Mr Gummer, however, claims the reason for his secession is the question of authority - that the Church of England did not have the power to decide unilaterally to ordain women priests. It was, he argued, such a fundamental change it could only have been approved by the 'universal church' - the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox churches acting together. Because this did not happen, the Church of England had rendered itself little more than a 'sect' and betrayed its long-held claim that it had no principles or orders of its own but only those of the universal church.
'By it, the Church of England has invited those who believed themselves members of the Catholic Church instead to transfer their allegiance to a denomination and declare their adhesion to a sect,' he told George Carey.
The Anglican Church argues in its defence that, in voting to ordain women, it is not altering a word in the scriptures or the creeds. Besides, it says, seeking universal authority for such a move, as Mr Gummer demands, is a practical impossibility: the last time the universal church convened was at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.
His conversion brought him both sadness and joy, Mr Gummer said yesterday. 'My only bitterness was I wasn't eloquent enough to convince people of the damage it (voting for women priests) could do.'
- 1 Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
- 3 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 4 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...