English Church Votes to Ordain Women Priests Ordination of Women Is Formally Approved

Article excerpt

The Church of England officially approved the ordination of women Tuesday, clearing the way for the first female clerics to make their entry into the priesthood next month.

After years of stormy debate, the vote of approval was by a show of hands in the church's ruling General Synod.

The vote took place a day after a High Court judge dismissed a suit by a traditionalist priest, the Rev. Paul Williamson, who had sought to charge the archbishops of York and Canterbury with treason.

"We will have the doctrine tested in every court in the land and Europe," Williamson shouted from the gallery as the synod voted.

Although the outcome was not in doubt, would-be female priests hailed the vote as the culmination of their decades-long battle to convince the male hierarchy of the church that a woman's place was in the pulpit as well as the pew.

"It feels like it is all over now. It is the last legal hurdle," said Jan Fortune-Wood, who will be among the first women ordained at Bristol cathedral on March 12. At least 1,200 women are expected to become priests in the next few months, beginning with the service in Bristol. …