Church of Eng­land votes for women priests

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

a Church is vastly more im­por­tant than a dis­agree­ment about women’s or­di­na­tion,” Dr Carey said.

But the Rev­erend Peter Gel­dard, who op­posed women priests, warned the de­ci­sion would “pit dio­cese against dio­cese, par­ish against par­ish and parish­ioner against parish­ioner”.

High-pro­file op­po­nent

The Church of Eng­land cur­rently al­lows women to serve as dea­cons which means they can per­form bap­tisms, mar­riages, and buri­als.

How­ever, they are not al­lowed to give com­mu­nion or ad­min­is­ter any of the other sacra­ments.

The is­sue of whether to or­dain women as priests has di­vided the Church since it was first de­bated 17 years ago.

Tra­di­tion­al­ist priests and bish­ops have threat­ened to re­sign over the is­sue.

More than 1,000 priests are ex­pected to leave in the next few years and an op­po­si­tion group, Cost of Con­science, is plan­ning to form break­away groups.

One high-pro­file op­po­nent of women priests is gov­ern­ment min­is­ter Ann Wid­de­combe who re­cently left the Church of Eng­land.

Ms Wid­de­combe, who ac­cused the Church of “pro­mot­ing po­lit­i­cal correctness above the very clear teach­ings of Scrip­ture”, said she was con­sid­er­ing be­com­ing a Ro­man Catholic.

About 1,400 women dea­cons are wait­ing to be or­dained priests.

It is not ex­pected any or­di­na­tion of women will take place for at least a year as the change first needs to be ap­proved by par­lia­ment.

The or­di­na­tion of women in the Church of Eng­land be­gan in March 1994.

By the year 2000 about 1,700 women were work­ing as Angli­can priests.

A re­port in the same year re­vealed many women priests suf­fered ha­rass­ment and nearly half of male clergy re­fused to take com­mu­nion from them.

In 1993, Ann Wid­de­combe be­came a Ro­man Catholic. A year later for­mer En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary John Gum­mer also con­verted in protest at women priests.

The de­bate in the Church of Eng­land has now moved on to whether women should be al­lowed to be­come bish­ops. So far only Angli­can churches in the USA, Canada and New Zealand have women bish­ops.

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