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Why rush, when Rome itself may change?

29 December 2009


From the Revd P. P. S. Brownless

Sir, — So, the subjects of too many bishops and of women bishops have come up again in the correspond­ence (18/25 December). Both, with their implications, are very im­portant for the future of the Church.

Perhaps the most important problem in the Church of England today is the desperate shortage of parish priests. Fifty years ago, many suffragan bishops and archdeacons ran parishes, and the several I served under, managed both jobs very well. I suggest doing away with all present suffragan bishoprics and making all rural deans suffragan bishops (running parishes, of course) and have all archdeacons running parishes. This would go a long way towards solving the problem of the shortage of clergy, and might usefully enhance the work of the deaneries, very important units.

The question of women bishops is due to come up shortly at the next General Synod. If the Measure to approve women bishops were approved, it would cause considerable disruption. In view of what is happening elsewhere, I suggest that the leadership should adopt a strategy of postponing any decision for a number of years.

The Roman Catholic Church has recently approved services in the vernacular, communion in both kinds for the laity, and accepted married priests, and now has a growing movement working for women in the priesthood. The present conservative Pope is aged and not likely to be Pope for much longer, and who knows what will happen when there is a new occupant of the Pope’s chair?

The Hornpipe, Oak Meadow
Chichester PO20 7BH

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