Letter: Garrick attitudes in the Church of England

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Sir: There must be thousands of members of the Church of England who feel deep dismay at the likelihood, according to a number of commentators, that for the want of some half-a-dozen votes the beliefs of the majority of laity, clergy and bishops about the rightness of women's ordination may be overridden.

We hear all too much from extremists from either side - those who want to edit the Bible and Prayer Book to get rid of what is regarded as male-orientated language, and those who cling to a theology of priesthood which depends upon the medieval view of women. Most of us simply find the distinction of sex totally irrelevant to the issue of ordination.

After all, that is our experience. We have observed the ministry of women deacons and of male priests, and found both equally fitted to be the spiritual leaders of the Christian community. Indeed, because they have surmounted the greater obstacles placed in their way, the calibre of women aspirants to ordination may well be higher.

To consider them unfitted solely by their sex to celebrate Holy Communion, the central service of most parishes, is insulting and smacks of the male defensiveness which recently showed itself in the vote of the Garrick Club. If that is the sort of 'club' the Church of England chooses to be, many Anglicans will find themselves alienated and disillusioned.

Yours faithfully


Botolph Claydon,


11 July