War of religion over a woman at St Paul's

The appointment of the first female priest to the staff of St Paul's Cathedral, the heartland of church traditionalists, yesterday led to further acrimony between supporters and opponents of the ordination of women.

Supporters of women priests welcomed the news that the Rev Lucy Winkett, 28, had penetrated the cathedral used by the clergy of the Diocese of London, the largest body of opposition to women priests. Christina Rees, chairwoman of the pressure group Watch - Women and the Church - said: "This is a brilliant step for women priests ... It will give a great deal of confidence to other women priests."

Traditionalists voiced regrets, with one canon announcing his intention to boycott any services of Holy Communion celebrated by Ms Winkett when she takes up her position as minor canon in September. Canon John Halliburton, Chancellor of St Paul's, is entitled to stage such a protest. Under the deal worked out after the decision to ordain women in November 1992, male priests may, if they choose, ignore the ministry of women altogether.

A Church of England spokesman said: "The consciences of both sides are respected ... I also believe he is not saying that he will not work with her, just that he feels he cannot be present when she is presiding. That view can be held with integrity."

Although the cathedral's three minor canons are not on the chapter, Ms Winkett's job is a high-profile one, involving responsibility for much of the organisation of daily worship. Canon Halliburton said he did not even consider Ms Winkett, who was educated at Cambridge University and the Royal College of Music, and is currently curate at St Michael's Church in Little Ilford, Essex, to be a priest.

"I do not believe anyone has the authority to ordain a woman to the priesthood. But that is the fault of the bishop who did so, not her fault. It is nothing personal. I will love her as I love everyone else at the cathedral."

He did not believe Ms Winkett had been the strongest candidate for the position, since she had only been an ordained priest for six months.

But Dr John Moses, the Dean of St Paul's, insisted Ms Winkett had been the best candidate for the post, regardless of her sex.

There were 16 applicants for the position, five of whom were short-listed.

The final decision was made at a meeting of the chapter, with Dr Moses and three of the residentiary canons in favour, and Canon Halliburton abstaining. The fifth residentiary canon was on holiday.

"The decision was made not because she was a woman but because, by a majority, we believed her to be the best candidate and she was in a class of her own musically," said Dr Moses. "We are not in the business of gender politics at St Paul's. We will always seek the best candidate for any position."

The Rev Geoffrey Kirk, national secretary of Forward in Faith, a traditionalist group, said the "inevitable" appointment would further alienate many members of the Diocese of London. But he added: "Ms Winkett is not going to be that importatnt in the long run. It is a tiny skirmish in a long battle which, on the present terms, it is written in the stars we will lose."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Two christmas trees ,Moonbeam (2L), Moonchester (2R) and Santa Claus outside the Etihad Stadium
footballAll the action from today's games
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas