Sydney Says No to Female Priests: Head of Church, House No Role for Women-Synod

Anglican Journal, February 1997 | Go to article overview

Sydney Says No to Female Priests: Head of Church, House No Role for Women-Synod


Headship was the main issue as the synod of Sydney, the largest diocese in the Anglican Church of Australia, decided a second time not to ordain women to the priesthood. Although the General Synod of the Australian church allows the ordination of women, its legislation is optional for dioceses.

The bill was defeated decisively by clergy and narrowly by laity after a vigorous debate. Sydney diocese has taken a stand against women as priests on the grounds that the Bible denies headship to women, either in the church or in the family.

The latest debate was on a compromise motion which would have allowed women to be ordained, but asked the archbishop not to license women as rectors of parishes. Had it been adopted women could have been ordained to chaplaincies, as parish associates, or in specialized ministries.

A womens' group called Equal but Different applauded the decision. It had gathered a letter opposing womens' ordination signed by 1,300 women from 120 parishes. But the Movement for the Ordination of Women pledged a continued battle for ordination, calling the decision "a serious rebuff to women deacons." Julia Baird, a member of MOW, said "the message young women are receiving is to take their talents elsewhere or bury them in the field, because they are not wanted here.

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