Welsh clergy vote against ordination of women priests: Negative decision 'was no great surprise'

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THE governing body of the Church in Wales yesterday voted against the ordination of women priests after a fierce debate.

The decision, taken by secret ballot at Lampeter, Dyfed, required a two-thirds majority in all three of the Church's houses - the House of Bishops, the House of Laity and the House of Clergy.

Lay members were in favour by 148 to 51. The six bishops also favoured the admission of women to the priesthood, but the clergy voted 75-47 against - enough to kill off the measure.

The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Reverend Alwyn Rice Jones, had told the 300 delegates that 77 per cent of Wales's parochial church councils favoured the

ordination of women. He warned: 'Change is traumatic . . . (but) not something we can ignore.' After the decision had been taken, he warned he would consider raising the issue again in 12 months' time.

But the vote of his clergy clearly rejected the need to involve women in the work of the church.

Jennifer Wigley, assistant curate of St James's, Swansea, won applause when she said: 'Some who oppose the ordination of women do so for dishonourable reasons. The idea of women standing at the altar is repugnant to them.'

Canon Elwyn John, of Builth Wells, said: 'There is no theological reason why women should not be ordained.' But his son, the Rev Mark John, vicar of St Mark and St John, Swansea, disagreed: 'I don't believe it is our right to take this step.'

Joan Buckingham, a lay member from Llandaff, said: 'I believe women cannot represent Christ at the altar.'

Credo Cymru '94, the main opposition group to ordination of women in Wales, said yesterday's result was 'no great surprise' because consultation three years ago revealed considerable clerical opposition to women's ordination.

'While opponents of the Bill are inevitably relieved that it has not been passed, we recognise the feelings of hurt and pain which the governing body's decision will have caused to those who see it in a different light,' its spokesman said.