Women clergy have found a welcome reception ten years after the decision to ordain women in the Church of England, but it will be difficult for them to progress and achieve higher positions, writes Stephen Bates in The Tablet magazine (Feb. 28).
There are now about 2,400 women clergy active in the Church of England (with a few hundred in retirement) in a clerical population of 13,000. About one in seven clergy in stipendary positions is a woman, although they are more disproportionately in non-stipendary ministry, making up half of the total. Although largely accepted by the laity, there remain pockets of clerical resistance; 430 have resigned over the decision to ordain women.
Organizationally, the move has “demoralized, enfeebled and marginalized the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England, which found ordination of women the hardest to accept,” Bates adds. But any chance women have of moving beyond the rank of priest is years, perhaps decades away. In fact, some believe conservatives will support women bishops to “secure for themselves a third province, a church- within-a- church with its own bishops and archbishops. to preserve a female-free form of worship.”
(The Tablet, 1 King St., Clifton Walk, London W6 0Q2, UK)