Three women give differing views of how the Church of England vote for women priests will affect both them and their Church
Dorothea McEwan is a lecturer at the University of London and a member of the Catholic Women's Network. She was outside Church House on the night of the vote, and was one of the women seen by thousands of television viewers holding up a sign which read: "Congratulations sisters! RC women next!"
jI CONGRATULATE my Anglican sisters whilst remembering that it is neither women nor men who keep the Church together, it is the Holy Spirit.
Now we will work hard to try and bring women's ordination to the Catholic Church. Anglican women have managed to move from the fringe into the mainstream, and we have to try and do the same. It will be a long haul before we become a credible force and I think that people like us will be vilified and ridiculed for it along the way, but we must do our best to try to enrich the life of the Church.
I believe that people who support us will
gradually start to come out of the woodwork. We have our theology together, we know the ropes, now it's just a question of bringing all our energies to bear.
I was in Dean's Yard when the result of the vote came through on the television monitor. There was shouting, singing, crying and hugging in Dean's Yard. Disbelief on the faces of many a deacon melted into unspeakable happiness, radiant grins and leaps in the air. I have not seen such a happy crowd for a long time.
Suddenly the fire-works cracking overhead produced a beautiful cluster of reddish stars. I thought of the spiritual, "Oh Lord, what a morning, when the stars begin to form", and changed it in my mind to "Oh Lord, what an evening when the Church began reform".
The Church of England has at last grasped the gospel of equality and understood women's ordination as a justice issue. The message was received with clapping and cheering.
And for the Catholic Church, there is now an issue on the agenda which will not go away."
Sr Cecily Boulding OP
Sr Boulding is a lecturer in systematic theology at Ushaw Seminary in Durham and was for eight years a Catholic representative on ARCIC. Ushaw this year took in for the first time three lay women for a new BA course in theology which emphasises pastoral work.
"THE Anglican Church has had ordained women since 1971, so why the tizzy now? Rome thinks mistakenly that the Church of England is more important than the Anglican Communion worldwide, which is who we were dealing with on ARCIC. But several of the overseas provinces have been ordaining women for many years now. So I think, from a Catholic point of view, part of the problem is that we just don't understand the Anglican Church.
The fact that we have got in a stew over the vote is even more silly since we don't recognise Anglican orders anyway. If we don't recognise male priests to begin with. what difference does it make if women are admitted? Although Anglicans can have, in the Church's eyes, a "valid ministry" in their own terms, we haven't formally recognised male ministers since Leo XXIII's Papal Bull of 1896, so I think the Church's reaction is a bit two-faced.
The Pope, wc arc told, said that the vote constituted 'a new and grave obstacle' to unity, but if it is a 'new' obstacle. that implies that we don't hold any current ones. We've got a very incoherent attitude.
As far as ordinary Catholics arc concerned, many will welcome this news. Theological arguments against women priests are increasingly untenable. The only real argument left is tradition. The magisterium, as the official guardian of the faith, confirms opposition to a female priesthood. But this just doesn't convince me.
Many would not want to see women slotted into the roles of men now, in any case. I think what is needed is a very full study of ministry within the Church, one which would reveal what the correct roles are for different people, and whether gender should be an element of that."
Cheryl Laycock and her husband Paul a member of his deanery synod have been lifelong Anglicans, but the result of the vote has caused them to leave the Church of England. They are keen to join the Catholic Church, but are unsure of their ground on some aspects of Church teaching...
"WE COULD not believe what happened. How can the Synod, in this decade of evangelisation, have allowed itself to get into this mess? It has taken a gun, looked at its feet, and shot itself. How can there ever be true Christian unity now?
We have told our vicar that we are resigning from the Church of England. Dr Carey himself said the move would make the Church more credible; to us that is almost blasphemous.
Our noses have not been out of our Bibles since last Wednesday. In St Paul's letters, the elders are to be men, there is no question about that. There could be a case for women in full-time ministry, but under
the lead of a male elder in a particular local church.
Our vicar was against women's ordination, but he is likely to retire in five years' time. When he leaves, a woman priest could very easily be appointed. We don't believe in being fifth column activists we are told in the Gospels not to be divisive and so we could not go back to our church to dispute with people. It is a question of where we can go now.
We would like to become Roman Catholics, but our situation is a bit difficult as my husband has been married before. Everyone is quite rightly advising us to be cautious, but they have all said they cannot see a future where the Catholic Church contains women priests.
We spoke to a Catholic priest, the Vicar General of Portsmouth diocese, at the weekend, who was very understanding, and told us to spend time praying and thinking about the next step. He was sure a solution could be found.
No Catholic has said we are being foolhardy, and that has been very encouraging."