Vatican's lack of warning on Anglican priests 'inexcusable' say Carey

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The Independent Online

The former Archbishop of Canterbury today branded as "inexcusable" the Catholic Church's failure to warn his successor of their plans to admit disaffected Anglican priests.

Lord Carey of Clifton told The Times that he was "appalled" that Dr Rowan Williams only learned of Rome's intention to publish a new Apostolic Constitution to allow the move two weeks ago.

"I think in this day and age, this was inexcusable that Rome decided to do this without consultation.

"He should express his unhappiness with the process."

He said that he was taken by surprise by the development although he admitted that he had been aware of "a number of bishops going to Rome and having conversations".

But he told the newspaper that the move was "worth considering."

"There are a number of deeply worried, anxious Anglo-Catholics who do not believe they have a constructive future with the Church of England with the ordination of women as bishops.

He added: "This could go a long way to helping."

Hundreds of Church of England priests who oppose the ordination of women have been meeting yesterday and today and are expected to discuss the issue.

Forward in Faith will hear from a number of Bishops as part of their annual conference including a keynote address from Rt Rev John Hind, the Bishop of Chichester who has staunchly resisted the move.

The Vatican said earlier this week it would allow groups of Anglican clergy and faithful who wished to enter into full communion to do so while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical life.

Traditionalists within the Church of England have previously warned they might leave over issues such as the consecration of women bishops and gay priests.

But Dr Williams, speaking after he announced the move in a news conference on Tuesday, insisted the development did not damage relations between the two churches.

"I do not think this constitution will be seen as in any sense a commentary on Anglican problems offered by The Vatican.

"It is a response to this range of requests and inquiries from a very broad variety of people, either Anglican or of Anglican heritage, in that sense it has no negative impact on the relations of the communion as a whole to the Roman Catholic church as a whole."

Under the terms of the new Constitution, groupings of Anglicans would be able to join so-called "personal ordinariates" allowing them to become Roman Catholics but at the same time preserve elements of the Anglican traditions including the possible use of Anglican prayer books.

Dr Williams said: "For, I suppose, rather more than 150 years, more or less significant numbers of Anglicans have entered into visible Communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

"There have been times when that number has been large, times when it has been small, times when it has been the effect of a particular crisis in the life of the Anglican Church and times when it hasn't.

"I do not see this as, in that sense, anything new. The Roman Catholic Church has responded over that period in rather diverse ways but it would not occur to me to see this as an act of aggression, a statement of no confidence, precisely because the routine relationships that we enjoy as churches continue."