Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has said he is sad at the prospect that full Anglican-Catholic unity will be 'out of reach' following a decision by the Church of England to ordain women as bishops. Speaking on the BBC Sunday programme he said that as the Church of England moves towards ordaining women as bishops " we will more and more now exist, as it were, in parallel rather than converging towards the full communion, unity which we believe is the will of Christ." Although no decision has been taken by the Church of England, the mechanism for deciding to admit women as bishops has been put in place. The Cardinal's language marks a shift from his previous insistence over the years that the process towards unity was a "road without exit". It follows a bracing speech last week by Cardinal Walter Kasper to the Church of England's House of Bishops in which the head of the Vatican's Christian Unity Council warned of the consequences that would follow the Church's decision. Cardinal Kasper said that while the decision to ordain women as bishops followed logically from the decision to ordain women as priests, the move was more significant because of the bishop's role as the agent of communion. "Cardinal Kasper was saying to them very seriously these are the consequences if you do ordain women to the Episcopate it will affect relationships not only within the worldwide Anglican Communion but also within the Church of England itself and also, of course, relationships with the Roman Catholic Church and with the Orthodox," Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said. But the Archbishop of Westminster stressed that : "the relationship and the friendship and the cooperation between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church will continue" whatever the Church of England's decision. But "we would be glad if this step was not taken," Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said. The two cardinals' intervention comes at a testing time for the Anglican Communion, as the North-American Episcopalians (ECUSA) vote whether to accede to the Anglican primates' bar on practising homosexuals becoming bishops. To read a transcript of the interview, see: www.rcdow.org.uk
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