The Shmooze

English Cleric Compares Supporters of Women Bishops to Nazis

By Josh Tapper

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It’s about time the Catholic Church shared the limelight when it comes to controversial behavior by Christian leaders. This incident, which manages to include anti-feminism sentiment and hyperbolic analogies to Nazi Germany, revolves around the oh-so fractious debate over the role of women in the Church of England.

According to Britain’s The Daily Telegraph, the Right Rev. Wallace Benn, the Bishop of Lewes, told the Reform conference of conservative Anglicans last week: “I feel very much increasingly that we’re in January of 1939. We need to be aware that there is real serious warfare just round the corner.”

January 1939, of course, marks the month Hitler, speaking before the Reichstag, outlined his intent to annihilate Jews. Benn later stepped back from his comments, which suggest under no circumstance should women be made clergy in the Church of England.

“I was thinking in terms of storm clouds being on the horizon,” he said.

Naturally, his remarks drew heat from women’s and Jewish groups. The analogy “belittles both the scale of the suffering the Nazis cause and the scale of the moral challenge they represented,” said James Smith, chairman of The Holocaust Centre.

Sally Barnes, a representative from Women and the Church, expressed regret that a Christian would even employ Holocaust rhetoric.


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