Church of England Clergy Increasingly Female, Study Finds

National Catholic Reporter, December 8, 2006 | Go to article overview

Church of England Clergy Increasingly Female, Study Finds


LONDON -- Women priests could well be the salvation of the Church of England because without them, its pulpits threaten to become "depopulated" in the years ahead, according to research by a leading British university.

The findings by the University of Manchester, published Nov. 26, indicated that nearly a quarter of the church's male parish priests are 60 or older, and nearly half of all priests ordained in recent years have been women.

The Church of England began ordaining women in 1994, and they account for about 2,000 of its 12,000 priests today. Across the world, 26 of the 38 Anglican churches (including the Episcopal church in the United States) allow women clergy.

"It seems pretty clear that in a couple of decades, women will not only be 50 percent of the inflow," said David Voas, the senior researcher on the Manchester project, "but 50 percent of the stock of serving clergy."

For all that, Voas said, the Church of England "is far from being an equal opportunity employer. Women are not yet allowed to become bishops, and they are far more likely to be 'second-class' clergy. …

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