From the Revd Paul Smith
Sir, — Thank you for your report on Alyn Haskey’s ordination (
Features, 16 July). Mr Haskey’s ordination is a historic event in the life
of the Church, and an occasion for great thanksgiving to God.
Since birth, I have had mild cerebral palsy, which affects my mobility. I
was ordained in 2000, and my own experience in being selected and trained for
ministry, as well as since ordination, has sometimes been difficult, painful
and lonely, precisely because there are so few clergy in a position similar to
So, for the few of us with physical disabilities already in ordained
ministry, this can only be a sign of hope and inspiration in a mostly
able-bodied Church, that finally Mr Haskey, someone with severe disabilities
but many gifts, has had his vocation recognised.
It is my prayer and hope that he will have a fruitful and much valued and
I hope also that, having witnessed the example of the Bishop and diocese of
Southwell in their decision to ordain Alyn Haskey, the whole Church may be able
to listen to God in new ways.
Perhaps in this year when the Disability Discrimination Act comes into
force, the Church is not simply relying on secular legislation to motivate
itself towards better practice among people with disabilities after all.
Instead, it seems that a creative engagement between disability and theology is
now emerging, recognising that people with physical disabilities, however
serious, do in fact have something most distinctive to offer to Christ’s
ministry in the Church today.
At last I have some confidence that we are beginning to think that we should
be acting on the belief that the integrity of Jesus, the Risen Great High
Priest, was found in his visible wounds and physical impairments after the
Alyn Haskey’s ordination is a most critical moment in the life of the
Church. May it be a time for new beginnings, when those with physical
disabilities can be fully welcomed and included in the community of faith. May
it also encourage those who simply because of their disability have been
actively discouraged from exploring a vocation to the ordained life.
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