Right Rev. Hugh Montefiore, BD, Hon.DD Bishop of Birmingham
Profesor Donald MacKinnon MA, Hon.DD
Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, Cambridge University
Rev. Christopher Evans, MA
Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies at Kings College, London
Rev. Canon F. W. Dillistone DD
Fellow Emeritus of Oriel college, Oxford
Rev. Canon Mary Michael Simpson, OSH
Canon Residentiary, Cathedral Church of St John Divine, New York
The Right Rev Gilbert Baker MA
Bishop of Hong Kong and Macao
The Venerable Michael Perry, MA
Archdeacon of Durham
The Anglican Communion as a whole, and the church of England in particular, must make up its mind about the recognition of women priests from churches in full communion with the See of Canterbury; and, more importantly, the autonomous churches of the communion, must make up their own minds whither or not to ordain women to the priesthood.
This book is offered as a contribution towards this question. All, its contributors, men and women of standing in their own churches, believe that the time has come to ordain women, and to recognize them as priests.
The argument must begin with an examination of the meaning, role and function of priesthood. For this reason first contribution is on the theology of priesthood, together with an appended, note by Professor Mackinnon on one particular aspect. Particular points of conflict centre on the interpretation of biblical evidence and the symbolic function of priesthood. Accordingly there follows an illuminating discussion of the biblical evidence by Professor Evans and a penetrating analysis of the representation of God by Dr Dillistone. The argument here concentrates on an historical approach, to symbolism, rather than on psychological analysis, because the subjective nature, of the latter inevitably leads to many diverse and conflicting interpretations.
The presence of authentic vocations to priesthood by women is vital if their ordination is to be seriously considered, and there follows an account by Canon Mary Michael Simpson, OSH of her vacation and her priestly life. important as is the interior call, its recognition by the Church is equally important, and there follows an episcopal assessment of women priests in the diocese of Hong Kong by its Bishop.
Finally, the question of expediency must be faced. Even granted that women may be ordained and that this is consonant with the theology of priesthood, what would be the effect of such a move on the other churches of Christendom? The Archdeacon of Durham meets possible objections in a final chapter entitled: Why Not Now?
No doubt, if we had had more time, we could have co-ordinated our contributions more closely and produced a more considered volume. We judge however that the propinquity of the Lambeth Conference and the increasing urgency of decision-making requires from us a quick response, and we believe that in this volume we have set before our readers the heart of the matter which we hope will help them in clearing their own minds on this pressing question.
I would like to express my gratitude to Mowbrays and Mayhew-McCrimmon for accepting this manuscript at very short notice, and for all their co-operation in producing and publishing it for us.
St Anthonys Day 1978
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