From Dr Brian Hanson
Sir, — Christina Rees and others (Letters, 5 December) state that they are “disturbed by the Bishop of Chichester not commissioning a suffragan bishop who would ordain women”. It is a fact that the dioceses of Chelmsford, Lichfield, Manchester, Oxford, and Southwark all have three suffragan sees, and, of those 15 bishops, not one is a non-ordainer of women.
This is a flagrant disregard of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993, which provides that “no person or body shall discriminate against candidates . . . for appointment to senior office in the Church of England on the grounds of their views or positions about the ordination of women to the priesthood.”
Loyal members of the Church of England who are labelled “traditionalists” are also “disturbed” by the fact that there has been no level playing field in the matter of appointments since 1992.
Those who framed the Act of Synod took it for granted that appointments to senior office would be made without regard to the views a candidate might hold on the ordination of women; sadly, they were mistaken. If there had been more generosity towards the minority from proponents of the ordination of women, perhaps the Bishop of Chichester might have taken a different stance.
Chairman of the House of Laity,
Chichester Diocesan Synod
Quarry House, Steyning
West Sussex BN44 3AA
From the Revd Ariadne van den Hof
Sir, — The Revd Mark Letters asks (Letters, 5 December) “Are not the only ‘ecumenical partners’ in Europe to share full communion with the Anglican Church the Nordic Churches of the Porvoo Agreement?” The answer is an emphatic No.
The Anglican Church has been in full communion with the Union of Old Catholic Churches since the Bonn Agreement of 1931. The Society of St Willibrord, which has branches in many European countries, including the UK, was founded some 100 years ago to help bring about an agreement of intercommunion between the two denominations. These days, the society exists to support the joint mission of the Old Catholic and Anglican Churches.
Most Old Catholic Churches ordain women to the priesthood; some, such as the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands, have opened the whole of the threefold order of bishops, priests, and deacons to women.
This, however, makes the letter from Bishops Geoffrey Rowell and David Hamid even more difficult to understand. It seems that the ecumenical partners on the Continent who are closest to the Anglican Church either ordain women priests or do not consider the ordination of women to the priesthood an impediment to full communion.
ARIADNE VAN DEN HOF
Hon. Secretary of the Society of St Wilibrord
Y Rheithordy, Y Sgwâr
Gwynedd LL41 3UW