Letter: 'Two integrities' in one church

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The Independent Online
Sir: What a pity that someone of Monica Furlong's intellect and spirituality should write such an intemperate open letter to Archbishop Habgood (4 October). She speaks of 'the prejudices' of those opposed to women's ordination to the priesthood. Why is it prejudice to hold by conviction to the theology and tradition of the universal Church in preference to her sureness that this fundamental break from orthodox practice is right?

Why should priests, who in conscience differ from Ms Furlong, not have the same opportunity for preferment as those who support her? Is it a case, beyond all doubt, that she and her supporters are right and the rest of us are wrong?

Unless one conviction or the other can be proved beyond doubt to be wrong, the Bishop of London's phrase 'two integrities' is a valid one: for Ms Furlong and I believe equally passionately, but differently; and we both claim respect and understanding for our conviction. The bishop, I assume, is acknowledging just that.

No doubt I would be at variance with the Archbishop for many reasons apart from his support for the ordination of women: but he deserves better than Ms Furlong allows.

Yours faithfully,

HUGH SARGENT

Anglican Chaplain

Southampton General Hospital

Southampton

5 October

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