British Anglicans Preparing Mass Defection to Roman Catholic Church

LONDON -- Hundreds of disillusioned Anglicans were preparing Sunday to defect from the Church of England to the Roman Catholic Church in time for Lent, Sky News reported.

It follows a campaign by a former Anglican bishop in protest at its stance on the ordination of women and gay clergy.

Father Keith Newton has encouraged Anglicans to join the Ordinariate -- a special branch of Catholicism established by the Pope -- to welcome protestant defectors.

Despite the efforts of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Anglo Catholics have begun leaving following the conversion of three Anglican bishops in mid-January.

The Church of England said that 1,000 of its 13,000 parishes were opposed to the ordination of women.

At St. Barnabas church in Tunbridge Wells, southeastern England, the parish priest said that a majority of his parishioners want to defect -- and he is considering going too.

Father Ed Tomlinson believes that traditionalists who oppose the ordination of women have been badly let down by Church leaders.

The priest was told if he and his followers leave they will no longer be allowed to hold services, even on a shared basis, at St. Barnabas.

"The whole thing stinks to high heaven," he said.

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