Williams barred in 350 churches
The Archbishop of Canterbury has been barred from conducting communion in 350 Church of England parishes because of his support for women's ordination reports the Sunday Times.
The no-go areas for Williams extend to nine in his own diocese of Canterbury, including the church next door to his palace in the city.
The move is by more traditionalist churches, which will not allow women ó or any bishop who has ordained women ó to celebrate holy communion before their congregations.
The churches claim that there has been a steady growth in their numbers since Williams became archbishop. They insist they will not change their mind unless he recants.
In 350 parishes parochial church councils have passed a resolution under section C of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993.
The 1993 compromise enabled those opposed to female ordination to remain inside the church but to distance themselves from their local bishop if he was pro-women. The bishop may attend the church or even preach there, but is not allowed to carry out the most sacred act in a service ó celebrating holy communion for worshippers.
The congregation is instead allowed to seek the ministry of a provincial episcopal visitor, nicknamed the ìflying bishopî.
In addition to the resolution C churches, a further 900 have signed up to resolutions excluding women priests but imposing less harsh sanctions on pro-women bishops.
Morris said: ìUnder the flying bishop, they (the congregation) get a far better service.î
There is little sign of the split being healed soon. If the General Synod decides to adopt proposals to agree to the ordination of the first women bishops, there is likely to be a further rise in the numbers of resolution C churches.
Critics of the opt-out have claimed that it creates an ìAlice in Wonderlandî church, where two contrary beliefs can be held at the same time.
They say that the measure removes one of the key roles of a bishop in caring for his diocese and they criticise the act for permitting members of the same church to hold opposing points of view.
The division was most marked last Easter in Canterbury cathedral when two identical services were held for blessing holy oil, one by Williams and another by flying bishops.
Andrew de Berry, a leading member of the church workersí section of the union Amicus and a supporter of women priests, called the act ìa prescription for long-term divisiveness ó integrity cannot be divided and the church has to go forward or it goes underî.
Williams himself is said to be relaxed about flying bishops and willing to accept an increasing diversity of opinion in the Anglican communion. On the day of his appointment he said that he was not going to be an Anglican ìPopeî imposing doctrine from the centre.
It is understood that he may use the resolution C model to deal with the problems caused by the decision of Anglicans in New Hampshire in America to ordain a gay bishop. Those parishes that disapprove of Gene Robinsonís appointment there may be able to declare themselves ìin impaired communionî with him.