Cathedral provost defies calls for her to resign

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The Independent Online

The Anglicaan church is attempting to oust Britain's most senior clergywoman by blocking funds to her cathedral after she fell out with the local bishop.

The Anglicaan church is attempting to oust Britain's most senior clergywoman by blocking funds to her cathedral after she fell out with the local bishop.

The move means that the Very Rev Miriam Byrne, provost of St Paul's Cathedral, Dundee, will lose much of her income. It follows her rejection of an £85,000 pay settlement in return for her resignation.

Mrs Byrne, 53, a former Roman Catholic nun, who married and then divorced a former monk, became the first female priest to take charge of an Anglican cathedral in Britain when she was appointed to her post last year.

However, Mrs Byrne, nicknamed "Attila the nun", quickly fell out with cathedral staff over the pace of change she implemented, including dropping a 17th-century prayerbook from use in services. Some members of the congregation, opposed to women priests, boycotted services led by Mrs Byrne.

Although the Bishop of Brechin originally supported her stance, he has since withdrawn diocesan functions from the cathedral and sought her resignation.

Now the College of Bishops, the governing body of the Anglican church in Scotland, has declared that her ministry is "no longer sustainable" and has called for her resignation on "appropriate and fair terms".

However, Mrs Byrne, who is remarried and has three sons and two stepsons, is proving determined and the case is likely to become a long-running embarrassment for the Anglican church. She can be removed from her post only if she is proved to be a criminal or insane, since technically she is an employee of God. Yesterday, church sources spoke of possible disciplinary action, but acknowledged that Mrs Byrne might be difficult to dislodge. In a statement, Mrs Byrne made clear that she did not intend to resign.

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