Welsh women deacons made priests


THE first of 64 Welsh Anglican women deacons became priests this weekend at services in cathedrals across Wales.

Women clergy will now enjoy equal status with their male counterparts after the decision by the Church in Wales to join the rest of the Anglican Communion in dropping the ban on women priests.

The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Rev Alwyn Rice Jones, who ordained a group of 17 women in St Asaph's Cathedral, Clwyd, said the breakthrough would enrich the life of the church.

He did not expect large numbers of church resignations in protest. "Our bishops have been working very hard to preserve unity since we took the decision last September to allow the ordination of women," he said.

From now on the Welsh women priests will be able to officiate at communion services, the one major role that was denied them as deacons.

Among those becoming priests at St Woolo's Cathedral, Newport, south Wales, was a delighted Rev Jennifer Mole, deacon at nearby Caerleon. "I have been encouraged by so many people to offer myself for ordination," she said.

Other ordinations took place at Bangor, St David's, Llandaff and the Swansea and Brecon dioceses. The women deacons ordained included the Rev Ann Pitt, whose husband, the Rev George Pitt, is a former curate at St Mary's, Crumlin Road, Belfast. Ms Pitt was ordained yesterday in St Asaph's Cathedral.

. Sri Lanka's controversial Catholic priest, Father Tissa Balasuriya (72) yesterday vowed to challenge his recent excommunication, saying it amounted to a violation of his fundamental rights.

Last week he became the first Sri Lankan priest to be excommunicated after he questioned the immaculate conception in a book published in 1993, Mary and Human Liberation.

"After working for the church for over 50 years they can't just throw me out," he said. "That amounts to depriving me of a pension.

According to the Vatican the Oxford educated priest called baptism "unnecessary" and rejected the idea Papal infallibility.