The Bishop of Stafford has criticised churchgoers for fuelling claims Anglicanism is in "terminal decline".

In his monthly pastoral letter for the Diocese of Lichfield's parish magazine, the Rt Reverend Gordon Mursell said the church only had itself to blame for the belief that mainstream churches had "lost it" after being "extraordinarily good at talking down" Anglicanism.

In addition, he said churchgoers had often given the impression they were "incomprehensibly obsessed with sex".

He said: "Now in part we only have ourselves to blame. We English Anglicans are extraordinarily good at talking down our church.

"It's frightening to ask yourself, 'how often have I been in a conversation with non-churchgoers during which I've criticised the diocese or the Evangelicals or the Prayer Book groupies - or simply failed to use the opportunity to say what I really value about my church and my faith?'

"And we are incomprehensibly obsessed with sex - or at least that's the impression we often give. Perhaps we've never really got over the fact that one of our founders - Henry VIII - had serious marital problems."

In spite of reports stating the number of people in England attending Roman Catholic services had exceeded those for Anglican services, and with high profile conversions to Catholicism such as Tony Blair, the Bishop called for a restored pride in Anglicanism.

"Anglicanism has not lost its way," he said. "There are already 20 times as many practising Anglicans in Nigeria as there are here.

"I have myself witnessed Anglican churches in Malaysia and Hong Kong that are pulsating with life and faith and engaging with justice and peace issues in their locality.

"And there are countless signs of hope and new life here in our own diocese.

"If you don't see them in yourself, or your church, ask yourself the hard question, 'How Christ-centred is my church, and my faith?'

"Anglicanism is a living branch of the Jesus Movement. We stand for a Bible-based faith that is both life-changing and thoughtful, both enthusiastic and challenging, rooted in tradition but deeply engaged in contemporary life and culture.

"A contradiction in terms? Nonsense. It's the faith Jesus came to teach and to live. So let's celebrate it - for nothing less is good news for our world."

* The Bishop of Lichfield has made his first donation from the new Overseas Training Fund - a £6,000 gift to an Anglican mission agency in South America.

The money was raised through donations to the Rt Reverend Jonathan Gledhill's annual Lent appeal last year from schools and churches running Lent Lunches and other initiatives throughout Staffordshire, the northern half of Shropshire and the Black Country.

Archdeacon of Walsall, the Ven Bob Jackson, was responsible for handing over a cheque to the USPG agency.

Welcoming the donation, Ali Saunders of USPG, said: "This gift will help hundreds of current and potential leaders to grow in their faith and lead others to know Christ better. With support from the Diocese of Lichfield, USPG is supporting eight projects in six dioceses.

"These courses will benefit Christians in diverse contexts, from clergy training that looks at the strengths that Anglicanism can offer, to training for children and their parents to lead courses in the popular Children's Encounter in the Spirit."