LETTER: Anglican spin

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The Church of England's spin doctors are at it again ("Church welcomes rise in new clergy", 26 June). They claim that the 396 new deacons that they plan to ordain is the highest number "since the Eighties".

But given that 141 of the latest batch are women, none of whom would have been eligible for the priesthood in the 1980s, the figures are simply not comparable.

Questions have already been raised in church circles about whether the increased number has been achieved by lowering standards. Perhaps this could be explained by the need to replace the escalating numbers of priests retiring.

To whom will these new priests preach? The attendance figures at Church of England services are declining so steeply that they hardly dare publish them.

KEITH PORTEOUS WOOD

General Secretary

National Secular Society

London WC1

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