Skip to comments.Church rebels plan £1bn property grab
Posted on 07/19/2006 12:39:52 PM PDT by sionnsar
The Sunday Times - Britain
The Sunday Times July 09, 2006
Church rebels plan £1bn property grab Christopher Morgan TRADITIONALISTS in the Church of England are preparing for a possible breakaway over women bishops by taking legal advice on whether they could claim property worth more than £1 billion.
John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham and leader of the traditionalist group Forward in Faith, has commissioned a QC to assess the implications of the move.
The lawyer has told him that if parishes that object to women bishops withdrew from the church, local bishops would have no power to take over their churches and vicarages.
Instead, parish priests themselves may be able to assert freehold rights and it is possible that only parliament would be able to resolve the deadlock. Traditionalists claim to control parishes containing about 10% of the churchs roughly £10 billion-worth of church buildings, church halls and vicarages.
The move comes as the General Synod yesterday voted that there was no theological bar to women becoming bishops, although years of further debate and wrangling are likely before the first ordinations.
Tomorrow the synod is due to debate procedures for legislation on women bishops.
Broadhurst yesterday declined to comment on the legal opinion but called on the church to prevent a split by providing special arrangements to accommodate conservatives.
Our membership of the Church of England is dependent on proper provisions being made, he said. And there will inevitably be consequences if the provision is not made.
The QC advised Broadhurst that under existing law neither a local bishop nor a diocese could lay claim to church property after a split. The church has no central body that owns parish property, which in most cases is vested in the priest who has the freehold.
Forward in Faith estimates that 1,300 parishes could join the breakaway faction.
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