You will be glad, Madam Speaker, to hear that I have only one petition rather than eight to present. It is signed by 2,219 Church of England clergymen who are opposed to the ordination of women to the priesthood. More than 1,500 of these petitioners are incumbents. The others include chaplains, archdeacons, deans of cathedrals and others. I have been asked to stress that there are many thousands of lay men and women who share their unease.
These are not people who in any sense question the equality, still less the ability, of women. For them, it is simply a question of deeply held belief and a firm religious conviction that the move is contrary to the teachings and traditions of the Church of England, which claims to be catholic and apostolic. The petition reads:
That the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure, passed by the General Synod of the Church of England in November 1992 and now before the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament, withholds from future Bishops of Dioceses, not being supporters of the ordination of women as Priests, the power to order their Dioceses according to their Beliefs and Consciences and the Doctrine and Order of the established Church of England hitherto.
Wherefore your petitioners pray that your honourable House will refuse its assent to the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure in the form in which the General Synod passed it in November 1992.And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
The petition is signed by Roger Beckwith, warden of Latimer House, Oxford, and, as I have already said. by 2,218 other clergymen.