Catholic Church should ordain women, says leading Anglican

By Andrew Johnson
Sunday 01 December 2002 01:00
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Celibate women should be ordained into the Catholic Church says one of Britain's senior Anglican figures.

The Right Rev Richard Holloway, retired Bishop of Edinburgh, also encourages the new Archbishop of Canterbury to allow gays and lesbians into the Anglican faith. In a programme to be screened on BBC2 tonight Dr Rowan Williams, who takes over the office of Archbishop of Canterbury tomorrow, reveals his distaste for the pomp and ceremony of the Church.

But Rev Holloway says the most pressing concern will be the "injustice" of the Anglican Church's attitudes towards homosexuals. He argues that in ordaining women priests the biggest argument against welcoming them into the Church – that it is against Biblical teaching – has been removed.

"If you go against the express word of scripture in order to do justice to women, you have already broken down the walls that protect the unchanging authority of Church and Bible," he writes in a Scottish newspaper today.

"You have tacitly admitted than many of the church's traditional attitudes are obsolete. Having swallowed the camel of female emancipation, it should not be too difficult for the Church to take the next gulp and swallow the gnat of justice for homosexuals as well. This is why the evangelical tendency is so afraid of the advent of Williams."

Dr Williams, whom Rev Holloway describes as "probably the most gifted religious leader there has been in Britain for centuries", has liberal views on homosexuality. But he has agreed to act within the current rules of the Church after coming under fire from the traditional wings.

Rev Holloway adds that the Catholic Church can circumvent the thorny issue of gay priests by allowing celibate women to be ordained.

"By allowing its clergy to marry [the Catholic Church] would end up as bourgeois an institution as the Protestant churches," he adds. "The Holy Father could solve both the sexual and manpower crisis of the Catholic Church by ordaining celibate women.

"One of the greatest strengths of the Catholic Church is the quality of its religious sisters. They make splendid pastors and seem to find sexual abstinence easier to cope with than their male counterparts."

He continued: "Maintaining a celibate priesthood would outflank the gay and lesbian issue and solved the grave shortage of priests."

'Archbishop Like This', BBC2, 7.10pm

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