Scots clerics attack head of kirk

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SCOTLAND'S most prominent churchman, under attack for his views on the Virgin Birth, yesterday defended his stand and denied the issue was splitting his church.

In a letter to the Scotsman and Herald newspapers yesterday, more than 100 Church of Scotland ministers criticised the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Dr James Weatherhead, who may now face a vote of censure.

The ministers said that the Virgin Birth was historical fact and an 'integral' part of faith. They accused Dr Weatherhead of using the media 'to voice his personal scepticism rather than to promote the Church's unity and faith'.

In a sermon in Edinburgh last Sunday, Dr Weatherhead defended the Bishop of Durham, Dr David Jenkins, by declaring the Virgin Birth need not necessarily be viewed as a literal truth. Yesterday, he said: 'I am not surprised they should think as they do, but I am a little surprised they should rush to make comment when I don't think many of them have read the full text of what I said.'

He added: 'I think it is wrong to talk of a split. This group has been meeting regularly, it is not a new group in the Church, we are aware of it and we are aware they hold certain views which are acceptable within the Church of Scotland.'