LETTER: Bishop's record on women priests

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The Independent Online
From Ms Susan Cooper and Ms Sally Barnes

Sir: In today's article concerning the nomination of Rt Rev Richard Chartres as the Bishop of London ("Bishop seeks to heal rift over women", 6 September), it was stated that Bishop Richard "has a record of appointing women priests to positions of real power and responsibility". That is not true.

There have been vacancies for an archdeacon, area deans and incumbents in Stepney area - no woman has been appointed to any of these positions. There are a number of talented women priests in Stepney. He has made one woman a team vicar, but she is subordinate to a team rector, and another a priest in charge; but neither of these appointments carry the security or real authority of an incumbency. Of the 17 women who were ordained as priests in April 1994, only 10 remain. Six of the women who have left the area have been promoted elsewhere, the most notable being Rev June Osborne, who has been made canon treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral.

The committee of Watch (London) is disturbed that the appointment of the bishop appears to have been made to satisfy the demands of an extremist minority of the diocese. Bishop Richard may have an uphill struggle trying to prove that this was not the case.

Yours sincerely,

Susan Cooper

Sally Barnes

Women and the Church

Harrow, Middlesex

6 September