London, July 31 : The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has challenged an American woman bishop to produce evidence to back up her claim that bishops beat their wives.
Bishop Catherine Roskam is facing the ire of the church after she told a Lambeth Conference in Canterbury that men beat women "because they can".
She said: "We have 700 men here. Do you think any of them beat their wives? Chances are they do. The most devout Christians beat their wives... many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally accepted to beat your wife."
About 670 bishops, nearly all men, are at the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, Kent. A further 230, mainly from Africa, have boycotted it because of the liberal direction of the Western church on homosexuality and other issues.
Bishop Roskam's comments are published in the latest edition of The Lambeth Witness, a daily newsletter produced by the Inclusive Church Network, a liberal lobby group working for the full inclusion of gays in Church life.
Bishop Roskam, a suffragan in New York, was speaking as bishops and their wives spent the day discussing violence against women.
Her remarks provoked dismay and astonishment among bishops at the conference.