Women bishops are obstacle between Canterbury and Rome, warns Vatican Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent guardian.co.uk, Tuesday July 8, 2008 The Vatican today criticised the Church of England's decision to press ahead with the ordination of women as bishops, saying it presented a "further obstacle" for reconciliation between Canterbury and Rome. In a statement released through the Vatican Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, the Vatican said it had "regretfully" learned of the historic vote, which took place last Monday following an epic seven-hour debate. It read: "Such a decision signifies a breaking away from the apostolic tradition maintained by all of the churches since the first millennium and is a further obstacle for reconciliation between the Catholic church and the Church of England. "This decision will have consequences on the future of dialogue, which had up until now borne fruit." Cardinal Walter Kasper, who heads the council, will speak at next week's Lambeth conference, where he will reiterate the Catholic position. The condemnation came as a senior figure from the Catholic wing of the Church of England warned of a "bloodbath" at next week's once-a-decade summit, which will draw 700 bishops from around the world. The Very Reverend Prebendary David Houlding said: "Rowan Williams is going to Lambeth with his own church in chaos, first gay weddings and now women bishops. "They [Canterbury and York] showed a lack of leadership. They made two very clear pleas to Synod - to have some safeguards for us - and nobody listened. Williams will have no authority. The last thing he wanted was an ecclesiological row. I feel very sorry for him." Houlding claimed the Archbishop of York met with key Anglo-Catholic leaders after the vote to discuss the future. "He was pleading with us until the early hours, asking us to stay. But we are not leaving, we are being pushed out. What happened on Monday was a very clear statement: we do not want you here. This is the beginning of the end." He, like other dissenters lingering on the University of York campus, the venue for the General Synod meeting, talked about finding a new home and other churches. One possibility is the creation of Anglican Use parishes, former Anglican congregations that that have joined Roman Catholicism while retaining some Anglican traits. Such parishes currently exist only in the US. Another option is the Global Anglican Future Conference, the breakaway traditionalist movement in the Anglican Communion that was launched last month in Jerusalem. Synod member and Gafcon leader Canon Chris Sugden said there were precedents for severing ties with liberal churches and opting into the care of bishops overseas, and gave examples of US dioceses that had rebelled against progressive leadership. "It is a factor. Unless something is done, it is obvious, although not inevitable," he said. However, a statement from a conservative group, Forward in Faith, said it would work with English bishops who were sympathetic to their cause and could lobby on their behalf. It has joined forces with evangelicals, who are unhappy with the ordination of gay clergy, to fight for control in the Church of England. Central to this approach is General Synod membership, which will play a crucial role when a final vote on legislation is taken in several years time. More traditional factions will work together to increase the influence of the more conservative voters in Synod when it is re-elected in 2010. They they could secure enough dioceses to ultimately defeat women bishops. Evangelical Synod member Paul Eddy said: "This is a fight for the centre of the church. We have far more in common than divides us. I am an evangelical but I voted with the Catholics all the way." He was disappointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury's failure to intervene, believing that Williams could have changed the outcome. "He has people in the House of Bishops that speak for him. He could have made a difference. He wanted to. He wanted safeguards for us." Increasing the conservative profile within Synod membership would "push off" legislation on women bishops for at least a few years, he added, possibly until the Synod elections in 2015. "There are about 14 bishops who are due to retire and most are from the liberal wing. "There will be greater pressure to appoint traditionalists."