Five Church of England bishops have announced they are converting to Catholicism over the row about female clergy and gay bishops.

Bishop of Ebbsfleet Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Richborough Keith Newton, Bishop of Fulham John Broadhurst and retired bishops Edwin Barnes and David Silk will “enter into full communion with the Catholic Church”.

Mr Newton cited the issue of blessing gay marriage and said there had been a “more lax attitude towards moral issues”.

The Catholic Church believes homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered”.

The move was announced by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. The Catholic Church recently made it easier for dissident Anglicans to join.

Last November, the Vatican extended an offer to Anglicans to allow them to convert to Catholicism while keeping Anglican traditions.

The five are considered junior bishops. At the time, it was suggested that there would be a large influx of Anglicans into the Catholic Church, but only 500 of UK’s 800,000 regular church-goers have suggested they will convert.