Plea for women priests

The vicar of Lancaster the Rev Chris Newlands.

The vicar of Lancaster the Rev Chris Newlands.

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THE Vicar of Lancaster has led calls for the incoming Bishop of Blackburn to be prepared to ordain women as priests.

Rev Chris Newlands, along with 55 clergy from the Diocese of Blackburn, has written to the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, urging him to ensure that the next Bishop of Blackburn will be prepared to ordain female priests, and fully affirm their ministry.

Currently there are 57 female priests in the Catholic Diocese of Blackburn, and 200 altogether.

Mr Newlands said that the previous two Bishops would not ordain female priests, nor accept that they were real priests.

He added: “Many churches across the diocese have been greatly enriched by the ministry of women, and we believe that to fulfil his calling as a focus of unity, the next Bishop of Blackburn should affirm the ministry of all the priests in the diocese who hold his licence.”

The Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) will be meeting next week to choose the name that will be submitted to the Queen who formally makes the appointment.

The Revd Nicholas Reade retired from his post as Bishop of Blackburn in October.

An announcement is expected within the next few weeks.

“The last two diocesan bishops have not accepted the ordination of women as priests and the signatories to the letter have urged the Archbishop and members of the Crown Nominations Commission to ensure that the 9th Bishop of Blackburn is a supporter of the ministry of women priests in the church,” Mr Newlands added.