On March 12, 1994, 32 female priests were ordained for the first time
History changed on this exact day when female priests were ordained for the first time ever in the Church of England.
According to The Christian Post, these women were the very first to ever be ordained as priests by the Church of Englandin Bristol Cathedral.
Angela Berners-Wilson got to be the first to become an ordained priest, as the ceremony was based on alphabetical order.
She later opened up on the experience in a 2012 interview with The Guardian.
“It was just amazing — very exciting and nerve-racking,” she recalled, “although there was great sadness, too, as my mother had Alzheimer’s and my father was with her, so they were unable to be there. But I shall never forget that service.”
“It was an amazing occasion and we were very much aware that this was a moment in history,” she adds in a Church of England podcast.
Afterward, she says it took a while for people to get used to female priests.
This means that “the first group of female priests had to prove ourselves. You do the very best you can, because if something goes wrong, then they might say, “What do you expect? She’s a woman.”
She adds, “I had to guard against that and was on my best behavior for years, which was quite exhausting. But everyone should always do the very best they can.”
However, Berners-Wilson notes that it was not all bad as some people were “absolutely thrilled” by the acceptance of women priests.
Those that were not okay with it initially, came around eventually.
In her words, “By the time I’d been there a decent length of time and hopefully done a good job, they were all very happy to accept me and appreciated my ministry.”
Female priests in today’s church
The issue of female ordination remains a controversial subject for the church.
Over the years, the Church of England has ordained more priests.
Berners-Wilson says, “It has been a process of gradual acceptance on the most part. We are making our way in many different areas of the Church.
“There are many women deans and lots of women archdeacons, there are women in cathedral posts.
“A lot of large congregations and large benefices are run by women so the longer it goes on the more accepted that we are.”
While more female priests are being embraced in this church, the
In 2016, Pope Francis said “that door is closed” regarding women’s priestly ordination.
He explained in a November 2016 informal statement on the return flight from his papal visit to Sweden to commemorate the Reformation.
“On the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the final word is clear, it was said by St. John Paul II and this remains.
“In Catholic ecclesiology, there are two dimensions to think about. The Petrine dimension, which is from the Apostle Peter, and the Apostolic College, which is the pastoral activity of the bishops, as well as the Marian dimension, which is the feminine dimension of the Church.”
It is important to note that a commission has been authorized by Pope Francis to see if women could ever become deaconesses.
Female priests exist in the Catholic church
Some women have refused to accept the church’s ruling on female ordination.
World Weekly News reports that a 70-year-old woman in Louisville, Kentucky became an ordained priest in 2017.
Reacting to the church and threats from other Catholics, she said, “It is a Medieval bullying stick the bishops used to keep control over people and to keep the voices of women silent. I am way beyond letting octogenarian men tell us how to live our lives.”
Later that year, a rebel group known as the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests defied the church by having an ordination ceremony for Abigail Eltzroth with Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan presiding.
Speaking with the Observer, the 64-year-old Eltzroth, said, “It’s time for a change and we’re in the forefront, leading the charge. We expect that eventually, everybody is going to follow us.”
Reportedly, at least 150 ‘ordained’ female Catholic priests exist all over the world.
Do you think its time for the church to start ordaining female priests?
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