Church of England row as cathedral opens doors to tarot card readers and crystal healers in 'new age' festival

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By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:37 AM on 28th March 2011

New age: Manchester Cathedral is to hold a new age festival to celebrate 'all forms of spirituality'

The Church of England was braced for a fresh row today after a cathedral announced plans to host a 'new age' festival.

The event - featuring tarot card readers, crystal healers, dream interpretation, and a fire-breathing vicar - is to be held in Manchester Cathedral in May.

But the move is certain to anger traditionalists, who feel the Church has already strayed too far from tradition.

Hundreds have already defected to the Roman Catholic Church after deep splits over the ordination of gay and women priests.

Anglican leaders in Manchester decided to hold the festival in the historic cathedral in a bid to embrace alternative forms of Christianity.

Fortune tellers, meditation experts and traditional healers will fill the pews during the day-long festival. The Bishop of Manchester, Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, said he wanted to celebrate 'all forms of spirituality'.

The Church is in trouble. Attendances have fallen for the sixth year in a row, according to official figures that also showed it holding fewer marriages, baptisms and funerals.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, the Vatican boasted that 900 disaffected Anglicans have left their parishes to become Roman Catholics. Many are believed to have felt alienated by the Church's 1992 decision to allow women to be ordained as priests.

Holy ground: Fortune tellers, meditation experts, traditional healers and a fire-breathing vicar will fill the pews of the ancient Cathedral for the event

But Bishop Nigel insisted the unconventional activities due to take place in Manchester Cathedral were not incompatible with Christian belief.

He said: 'The event is a chance to discover and explore old and new Christian spiritual traditions from living in a community to praying with icons, from healing to bead-making, from Franciscan spirituality to contemporary music and movement.

'Practitioners from all over the country will be on hand to offer their experience of how God speaks to us today through the cultural language and practices so common in mind, body, spirit fairs.'

The Spirit of Life festival on May 2 will also feature stalls and workshops on angels, prayer bead-making and massage.

Fire-breathing vicar Rev Andy Salmon, of Sacred Trinity Church and St Philip with St Stephen in Salford, will also perform.

The event will cost £5 with children

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