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Services held at other local churches after fire

St Peter's church in Ropley was destroyed in a fire on Thursday Credit: ITV Meridian

Parishioners of a historic church in Hampshire had to attend services at other churches this morning after a devastating fire.

The 800 year old St Peter's Church at Ropley near Winchester was engulfed in flames throughout Thursday. An investigation is being held into the cause of the blaze.

Anger at news that burial sites will be dug up to make way for HS2

The Church of England has criticised plans for a high speed rail link through Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The Archbishops' Council has expressed concerns at proposals to dig up a number of burial sites along the route.

More than 30,000 graves must be exhumed to make way for HS2 including two and a half thousand within the ruins of St Mary the Virgin Church in Stoke Mandeville. See our report from Mel Bloor

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Church of England 'opposed' to HS2

The Church of England has announced it's opposition to the Government's controversial HS2 high speed rail line.

One of the Church's most powerful bodies, the Archbishop's Council says the route which would pass through Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, will desecrate thousands of graves.

In a statement a Department for Transport spokesman says throughout the development, burial grounds have been avoided as much as possible. ITV Meridian spoke to Helen Glass of HS2 Ltd.

Bishop of Porstmouth welcomes women bishops vote

The Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth has welcomed yesterday’s vote which could pave the way for the first women to become Church of England bishops.

The Rt Rev Christopher Foster was one of eight representatives from the Diocese of Portsmouth on the Church of England’s General Synod, which voted overwhelmingly for a package of measures as the next steps to enable women to become bishops.

The General Synod voted by 378 to eight in favour of proposals outlining the Draft Legislation of Women in the Episcopate. The proposals included a simple piece of legislation allowing women to become bishops and archbishops, and a way of resolving any future disputes over the arrangements.

I'm delighted at the overwhelming support that the Church of England’s General Synod gave to proposals that could mean the first women bishops are appointed much sooner than was previously thought.

– Rt Rev Christopher Foster

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Retired Church of England priest's string of child sex offences

Priest
Father Keith Wilkie Denford Credit: PA

A retired West Sussex Church of England priest and a former organist and choirmaster have been found guilty of a string of child sex abuse offences dating back more than 25 years.

A judge said that Father Keith Wilkie Denford and Michael Mytton had committed "a grave and gross breach of trust". Prosecutors said Denford, 78, used the respectability of the cassock to groom and abuse two boys over an 18-month period from when they were aged around 13.

Following Denford and Mytton's convictions, the Bishop of Chichester Dr Warner said: "I note the verdict reached by the court today and we will now move swiftly to implement our own disciplinary procedures following this verdict in the case of Mr Denford.

"The Diocese fully acknowledges the suffering caused both to survivors of abuse and their families.

"We deeply regret the betrayal of trust in the context of public pastoral ministry and we extend our prayers and support to those caught up in the events highlighted by this case".

Priest 'groomed and abused' boys

Denford and Mytton had denied all the charges. Following a two-week trial at Hove Crown Court, Denford, of Broad Reach Mews, Shoreham-by-Sea, was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault against two boys between January 1987 and January 1990 and cleared of one count of the same charge.

Mytton, of South Road, East Chiltington, East Sussex, was cleared of one count of aiding and abetting indecent assault and cleared of two counts of indecent assault.

He was convicted of three counts of indecent assault relating to a third boy when the victim was in his early teens between September 1992 and September 1994.

Priest and choirmaster committed 'grave breach of trust'

A retired West Sussex Church of England priest and a former organist and choirmaster have been found guilty of a string of child sex abuse offences dating back more than 25 years.

A judge said that Father Keith Wilkie Denford and Michael Mytton had committed "a grave and gross breach of trust". Prosecutors said Denford, 78, used the respectability of the cassock to groom and abuse two boys over an 18-month period from when they were aged around 13.

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