Speaking at a central London rally for Anglican opponents of the legislation, she said: 'The doors of Rome are open. You can walk through and you can start the journey now. Indeed, I would say that you must start the journey now, for the sooner you start, the sooner you will find peace.
'Rome welcomes your congregations, your buildings and your services. Your priests are welcome too. If they are married they are still welcome.'
Ms Widdecombe said that a letter would be read in all Catholic churches today telling Catholics to welcome Anglicans. 'Please take advantage of that welcome,' she added.
The rally in the Methodist Central Hall was organised by Forward in Faith, an umbrella group for opponents of women priests. An audience of around 2,000 heard the leader of the movement, the Rev John Broadhurst, compare opponents of women priests to Israelites living in bondage under the Pharaoh, about to embark for the Promised Land.
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