Ballarat endorses women priests: The Church of England Newspaper, October 25, 2013 October 25, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Ballarat, Gary Weatherill
The Ballarat diocesan synod has voted to allow the ordination of women to the priesthood.
On 18 October 2013 the synod voted by over two thirds margins in the clergy and lay orders to permit women priests. The vote by the conservative Anglo-Catholic diocese means that only three Australian dioceses: the Anglo-Catholic diocese of The Murray and the conservative Evangelical dioceses of Northwest Australia and Sydney do not permit women priests.
In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation after the vote, the Rt. Rev. Gary Weatherill noted the vote was highly symbolic. Ballarat had been one of the most conservative Australian dioceses on the issue of women’s orders. “Tt’s really a very significant change at that Australian level”.
“For ordinary people, there’s not going to be hundreds of women priests suddenly running into the diocese, it’ll just mean women can be ordained,” he said.
“I think there’s a changed understanding amongst many people that ministry is something that women can do well and the priestly ministry probably ought not to be exclusively for men,” the bishop said.
Reports from the synod proceedings stated the debate was unexceptional and that no new arguments had been put forward. Supporters argued it was a matter of justice for women to be allowed to be priests. One speaker stated that if women could be baptized then they should be able to be ordained.
Other supporters spoke of the pastoral skills women clergy would bring, and argued the question of women clergy was a second order issue that should not divide the diocese.
Opponents cited the example of the church’s traditions, Scripture and the ecumenical implications of the move. Support for the legislation was found among younger clergy and lay delegates, and age and retirements appeared to weaken the strength of the “no” lobby. Bishop Weatherill said he supported the decision and will give his assent to the legislation.
“Change is always tough. I feel a great weight for the people who are not happy for this to happen,” the bishop said.
Women were first ordained as deacons in the Anglican Church of Australia in 1986 and as priests in 1992.