Church unity in England moved a step closer when the Church of England's General Synod endorsed the controversial Ten Propositions for unity.
As of now, the Anglican, Methodists and the United Reformed and Moravian churches have approved the propositon. The churchs of Christ are expected to do so shortly, but Roman Catholics and Baptists and the Congregational Federation have rejected them.
The propositions, published by the churches' Unity Commission in 1976, ask major churches in this country to join in a covenant to seek visible unity and press for action on inter-communition, agreement on baptism and mutual recognition of ministries.
England's Methodists endorsed the unity propositions in June but only on the condition that the Church of England also approve.
The Anglican provided the needed endorsement of the propositions following a 4 1/2-hour debate in which Archbishop Donald Coggan of Canterbury intervened to calm feelings of Anglo-Catholics that endorsement of the propositions would - as claimed by a Roman Catholic theologian, Bishop Basil C. Butler - be a "distinct step backward" in Anglican-Roman Catholicrelations.
Coggan said "diversity of theological opinion is present as much within the Roman Catholic Church and it is our responsibility to respond as faithfully as we can to His prompings."
In other actions, the synod decided by a narrow margin not ro change long-standing rules that bar the re-marriage in church of a divorced person while the other partner is still alive. Voting on this controversial issue was 213 to 206, with six abstentions.
Archbishop Coggan made it clear that he was against relaxing the rules but said he wished he could find some way out of a personal dilemma.
"It's a matter of some agony to me to have to register my own decision against this," he said. "But I ask myself whether this is the moment for the church to take off the brake, perhaps the last brakeand rush down the divorce slope."