LONDON (CNS) -- A Vatican cardinal has warned the Church of England that a move to ordain women as bishops would destroy any chance of full unity with the Catholic and Orthodox churches.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said that if the Church of England adopted such a resolution the "shared partaking of the one Lord's table, which we long for so earnestly, would disappear into the far and ultimately unreachable distance."
"Instead of moving toward one another, we would simply coexist alongside each other," he said.
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Although three of the world's Anglican provinces have already agreed to consecrate women as bishops, Cardinal Kasper said decisions made by the Church of England had a "particular importance" because they gave a "strong indication of the direction in which the communion as a whole was heading."
Saying that he spoke with "pain and sadness," the cardinal warned the bishops of their historic decision's grave consequences, both to ecumenical relations and to the interior unity of the Anglican Communion.
Among the most serious of these, he said, would be that the goal of restoring full church communion "would realistically no longer exist" because it could not exist "without full communion in the episcopal office."
A decision in favor of women bishops made broadly by the Anglican Communion, he said, would also represent a turning away from the "common position of all the churches of the first millennium."
He said this meant that the Anglican Communion would no longer occupy "a special place" among the churches of the West but would align itself closely to the Protestant churches of the 16th century.
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