women priests


women priests
   The ordination of women received royal assent in November 1993, and the Church of England General Synod gave its approval in February of the following year. The first women priests were ordained in March 1994 amid both protests and celebrations; many male priests switched to the Catholic Church, while many feminists saw the move as the first positive improvement the Establishment had made in the rights of women since the Conservatives had come to office in 1979. The debate over whether women should be priests extends as far back as Thomas Aquinas’s thirteenthcentury view that, though ordination concerns the soul and not the body, women must not represent authority. After 1994, Catholic, Orthodox and some Anglican churches continue to deny women the right to become priests. The Vatican continues to hold by its 1976 encyclical, which maintained that only men can represent Christ.
   See also: Anglican Church; Catholicism
   PETER CHILDS

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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