The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Camilla crack in church

London, Feb. 12: Sharp divisions over the remarriage of the Prince of Wales surfaced in the Church of England yesterday when long-standing members of its 'parliament' called on him to renounce the throne.

More than a quarter of the General Synod's members are thought to be uneasy that the church's next supreme governor ' a title that the prince will inherit if he becomes king ' will be a remarried divorc'.

The row is expected to intensify when the Synod meets next week. Although the issue is not on the agenda, three senior members have called for an emergency debate, which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has rejected.

A liberal Christian think tank added to the furore by saying that the Church should be disestablished following the news that the prince is to marry Camilla Parker Bowles in a civil ceremony.

Jonathan Bartley, the director of Ekklesia, said it would be 'anomalous' for the church's future governor and defender of the faith to be 'a man whom even the Archbishop of Canterbury cannot permit to re-marry in his own church'.

The growing dismay is in contrast to the way church leaders welcomed Thursday's news of the wedding. Lord Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, argued that the union will be good for the monarchy and the church.

He said: 'Both institutions can weather the squalls which have been raised by their 'I do's'. But if Charles had come to the throne saying: 'I don't', a much greater question would have arisen over his commitment to the faith.'

The Rev David Phillips, a conservative evangelical and one of those who has demanded a debate, said: 'This relationship has caused the break-up of two marriages and that does not seem to be a very good model for Christian marriage.

'The prince is not a suitable person to be supreme governor of the church, or the king.' Alison Ruoff, from the London diocese, said she was determined to force the issue on to the Synod agenda.

'Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles are divorced and he is not a fit person to hold the office of supreme governor,' she said. 'It would help if they repented publicly.'

Margaret Brown, of the Chichester diocese, said: 'If he is going to marry Parker Bowles, we cannot have him as supreme governor.'

Brigadier Ian Dobbie, from the Rochester diocese, trained at Sandhurst with Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, Camilla's former husband. He said he would 'regretfully' have to support calls for the prince to renounce the throne. 'In Christian matters leadership must be exemplary,' he said.

James Cheeseman, also from Rochester, said: 'My instinct is that Prince Charles should not become king. But one must be wary of a knee-jerk reaction. After all, George IV was a bigamist and his debauchery makes Charles look like a saint.' A church spokesman said: 'Synod members will differ in their views. But many will agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury that this is a right solution for the Church.'

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