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Ordination of women in Chichester diocese

23 May 2012


From the Rt Revd David P. Wilcox

Sir, — I am among the great number of clergy and lay people, of differing persuasions, who are eager to welcome Dr Martin Warner to the diocese of Chichester. It is inevitable that there should be disappointment, especially among the women priests and their many supporters, but it was always to be expected that Dr John Hind’s successor would be a traditionalist.

The ordination of women to the priesthood is, for many of us, an issue of very great importance; but even more important is that we should be given a faithful pastor, who will seek to be father-in-God to all in his diocese, and I have every reason to believe that this will be the case.

It has been my privilege to ordain 39 women to the priesthood in the diocese of Chichester since 1994, together with some of their male colleagues. Many, though not all, of these priests are still ministering in the diocese, in stipendiary and, too often, non-stipendiary posts.

But being ordained by a retired bishop can never be the same as knowing that at least one out of the three bishops of the diocese recognises the validity of women’s priesthood and values it highly. It follows that what is now needed, above all, is that, when the next area bishop is appointed, he should be one who will ordain women and be given authority to do so.

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