England

Ordination of women bishops 'like outbreak of WWII'

Rt Rev Wallace Benn
Image caption The Rt Rev Wallace Benn said he had chosen his words "deliberately and carefully"

The Bishop of Lewes has been criticised for comparing the debate over the ordination of women bishops to the outbreak of World War II.

The Rt Rev Wallace Benn told a Church conference of Anglicans that he felt there was "real serious warfare just around the corner".

The bishop said the Church of England into which he had been ordained was "not the same Church today".

Supporters of women's ordination said the bishop's views were "demeaning".

Speaking at the Reform conference of conservative Anglicans in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, the bishop said: "I'm about to use an analogy, and I use it quite deliberately and carefully.

"I feel very much increasingly that we're in January of 1939.

"What we must not do is create a phoney war, but we need to be aware that there is real serious warfare just around the corner."

'Sense of desperation'

Christina Rees, of Women and the Church (Watch), said the bishop's views were "demeaning".

She said: "Bishop Benn knew what he was doing when he made that analogy.

"There is a sense of desperation, a fear, and an unwillingness to believe that this is what the Church of England should be doing."

The bishop said he had intended his comments to be "Churchillian".

A statement issued from his office read: "He said that the situation in which we find ourselves in the Church feels like people probably felt as they viewed the year ahead in January 1939.

"There are storm clouds on the horizon and warfare around the corner. We all hope and pray that it won't happen."

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