CARDINAL HUME has warned the Anglican Church that any steps taken towards the ordination of women without prior consultation with the Catholic Church could impede further progress towards unity.
Speaking at the Anglican Synod on Wednesday, he said: "It would be a matter of deep concern were the Anglican Communion to proceed further with the ordination of women without taking very seriously the position of the Roman Catholic Church, our brothers of the Orthodox Church and of the Old Catholic Church regarding so momentous a change."
The ordination of women is expected to be a major issue at the Lambeth Conference this summer.
Anyone expecting a dramatic response to Archbishop Donald Coggan's renewed call for intercommunion, made last week in Westminster Cathedral, would have been disappointed.
Cardinal Hume endorsed the official Catholic response to the Ten Propositions of the Churches Unity Commission, and repeated that .a shared Communion was a sign of unity rather than a means towards it.
However, he emphasised the need for the Churches to stand together to give a clear witness on major issues affecting society, and in particular those concerning human rights, racial justice, pornography and disarmament.
In a reference to "the almost unbelievable" sums spent on military expenditure, he acknowledged that the power of political action lay elsewhere. However, he went on: "But even our moral influence as Christians is diminished by our evident disunity which is such a comfort to our enemies.
On questions of theology the Cardinal was more cautious. Before agreement could be reached on issues concerning the Eucharist and the ordained ministry, he said, there needed to be agreement on the nature of the Church.
The Cardinal was given a very warm welcome by the Synod. He was introduced by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Donald Coggan, and after his speech he was thanked by Dr Stuart Blanch the Archbishop of York. Dr Blanch praised the Cardinal for "putting his head into the lions' den. The lions are not going to be allowed to roar today' he said, "they are going to applaud you, not for what you do, but for who you are."