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'Few will become Roman Catholic'

BBC Leicester presenter John Florance
By John Florance
Presenter, BBC Leicester

Pope Benedict XVI
The Pope is allowing disenchanted Anglicans to convert to Catholicism

Speaking on BBC Radio Leicester, the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt. Reverend. Tim Stevens, said he thought few people in his diocese would become Roman Catholics following the recent overtures from Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI has created a new structure that opens the door to Anglicans entering into full communion with Rome whist still retaining some Anglican identity.

This new structure, it is thought, would appeal to those Church of England members who are disenchanted with the ideas of women priests and bishops and the ordination of openly gay men.

Under the Vatican offer, married Anglican clergy could join the Catholic Church, but married bishops would have to give up their titles before doing so.

Significant or over-hyped?

Some commentators have said that this is the most significant development since the Reformation.

It has been said that as many as half a million Anglicans and 50 of their bishops could take advantage of this invitation.

Quite what the outcome of this unprecedented move will be will only become apparent in the fullness of time
John Florance, BBC Leicester

On the other hand, when I spoke to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, just over a week ago he rather played the situation down.

Bishop Tim also implied that the situation had been rather over-hyped.

However, he was concerned about the lack of consultation with Canterbury before Rome announced its initiative.

A surprise move

The move surprised many as it was unveiled simultaneously in the Vatican and in London, where the Archbishop, was forced to admit that he had not known about it until a few weeks ago.

And Bishop Tim also thought that staying within the Anglican Communion and sniping at its decisions and practices was unacceptable when conversion to Roman Catholicism was, and always had been, an option.

Quite what the outcome of this unprecedented move will be will only become apparent in the fullness of time.

But I suspect it will mean rather less that some church commentators (who like a good row and controversy as much as the next journalist) have made out.

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