From the Bishop of Chichester
Sir, — Your report on our recent diocesan synod (News, 21 November) was true as far as it went, but was misleading in what it did not say.
I first made it clear that I shall require any suffragan bishop to be willing to share with me in the discernment and nurturing of vocations and the deployment of clergy regardless of gender. Unless Resolutions A or B have been passed, all priestly vacancies are open to male and female priests without distinction.
I shall also expect any future area bishop to be willing to license and institute or collate incumbents, regardless of gender. I also said that I would continue to commission an assistant bishop (or assistant bishops) to ordain women to the priesthood.
Then, in answer to a question from the floor, I said that I would not commission a suffragan bishop to ordain women to the priesthood.
For the sake of (relative) completeness, I have also made it clear that, in accordance with what I understand to be the policy of the Church of England, candidates’ personal theological convictions on the matter will not be a factor in the appointment.
The Palace, Chichester PO19 1PY
From the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe and the Assistant Bishop in Europe
Sir, — Might we correct your report that includes the diocese in Europe among dioceses in which, the diocesan bishop having conscientious difficulties in ordaining women to the priesthood, this is done by the suffragan bishop?
In the diocese in Europe, both bishops ordain women to the diaconate, but women are ordained to the priesthood by the Archbishop of Canterbury or by his commissary, usually one of the Hon. Assistant Bishops in the diocese.
We are mindful of the unique ecumenical considerations in this diocese, in which close ecumenical relations with Roman Catholics and Orthodox, with whom the Church of England has always claimed to share the historic apostolic min-istry, are particularly important.
We believe that this practice best honours both the view that the historic ministry, which reflects Catholic consent, needs Catholic consent for change, and that the ordination of women in the Church of England is in an open process of reception.
c/o 14 Tufton Street
London SW1P 3QZ
From Miss Susannah Rudge
Sir, — As a woman who has recently begun training for ordination to the priesthood, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to live out my vocation, and for those whose struggles and sufferings in past years have made this possible.
On my journey towards this point, however, I have also benefited much from the prayers and example of others who cannot accept the ordination of women — among them some of the most devout and committed Christians I have known. Like Canon Wealands Bell (Letters, 21 November), I am unhappy with the way that their concerns do not seem to be being taken seriously in the current debate.
In my experience, some at least among the “silent majority” to which Christina Rees looks for support (News, 14 November) are silent because they do not care either way. Bored by arguments about women and sex, they wish
the Church would direct its attention elsewhere. Counting their indifference as assent to a decision that will have drastic consequences for others seems highly questionable.
Furthermore, while it is “unCatholic” and ecclesiologically unsatisfactory to have female deacons and priests but not bishops, I cannot see that gaining female bishops by pushing aside those who oppose them is any better.
I do not have the option of voting with my feet. Nevertheless, the prospect of ministering in a narrow Church that excludes minorities in the name of inclusivity fills me with apprehension.
Westcott House, Jesus Lane
Cambridge CB5 8BP