Page 2, 25th October 1968

25th October 1968
Page 2
Page 2, 25th October 1968 — Call for women priests A LL the churches are urged to

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People: Ann Cheetham, Paul
Locations: Canterbury


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Call for women priests A LL the churches are urged to

ordain women into the priesthood in a motion approved by the annual conference of the National Council of Women in Bournemouth.

The motion was proposed by Mrs. Ann Cheetham and seconded by the Society for the Ministry of Women in the Church fall denominations). The Catholic St. Joan's Alliance supported it, but a delegate from the Anglican Mothers' Union opposed it.

Mrs. Cheetham said: "In this resolution 1 am concerned only with opening the door of the priesthood to women—not for the sake of opening doors, but because I know that some of the finest, able, dedicated and sensitive women of the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox Churches, feel a genuine call by God to pass through It.

"I mention those three because they are the only, albeit the largest, churches, which still block the way. If you want to know what it feels like to be unable to answer a call of this kind, I can only quote from one of these women, who said, `It's like not having a child!'

"You may now ask why then does it matter whether women are ordained or not? It matters, for one thing, because of its effect on unity. All the churches are now talking with each other as fo how to end the scandal of disunity. But how can the Catholic and free churches unite until they are all of one mind about the ordination of women?

"You must at this point be left with the only question that remains. If women are called suitable and needed, what then is this deep prejudice that prevents their churches from ordaining them? Six years ago I could not have told you, but my own experiences as a jour• nalist since that time have enlightened me.

"When the Archbishop of Canterbury met Pope Paul for the first time in the Cistine Chapel to discuss unity, I was admitted the only woman, along with other journalists, to report it. A Vatican official, seeing me there, swooped down on me and ordered me out, saying: `The presence of a woman will sully this holy occasion for the Pope.'

"Later apologies were made, hut no one would tell me why. An Anglican representative at the Vatican asked and got this answer: 'To you women are people. but to us they are temptation.'

"Already we are going back to the old Testament, even to the Garden of Eden, where sex first raised its ugly head. But I was to be further enlightened by the Orthodox Church, when 1 went to Russia and found that any Tom. Dick or Harry could be taken behind the screen into the sanctuary to see the holy icons and church treasures, but I. so very gently, was asked to wait outside.

"When I asked why, one of the nuns took me on one side and said `Women are not allowed in the sanctuary, because they are unclean.

"So, ladies, at last we come to the heart of the matter. Women can scrub. polish, work, preach, pray, read the lessons. put money on the plate, sing, worship and listen, but at the altar they would be unclean —unfit to consecrate."

The report of the AnglicanMethodist Commission on Women and Holy Orders was published yesterday. It says.the commission feels it is probable that many years will pass before the Church of England is ready to implement any declaration that there are no conclusive theological reasons why women should not be ordained into the priesthood by actually ordaining them.

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