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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 06:22 GMT
Diocese licenses first woman priest
women priests
Women priests' appointments were endorsed in 1992
A West Sussex diocese is holding its first ceremony to license a woman priest.

The Reverend Pat Sinton is being licensed on Friday for the Chichester Diocese, at Shipley, near Horsham.

Chichester Cathedral's previous bishop consistently refused to carry out licensing and ordinations of women priests.

Women however, have been able to work within the diocese, through the approval of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

It would be right to for me to say he (Bishop Eric Kemp) is against the ordination and licensing of women priests

Chaplain Nicholas Biddle, Chichester Cathedral
Bishop Eric Kemp, formerly head of the Chichester Diocese, has been staunchly opposed to the ceremony for women since their appointments were first sanctioned in 1992.

Rev Nicholas Biddle, the chaplain to the current bishop, the Rt Rev John Hind, told BBC News Online that Bishop Kemp had been unwilling to compromise on his beliefs.

Mr Biddle said: "It's not really for me to comment on the reasons behind his feelings, but it would be right to for me to say he is against the ordination and licensing of women priests.

"Because anyone who operates in a diocese in this way needs a license from the bishop, it has meant Reverend Sinton is the first woman to be licensed directly under the diocese's name."

Reverend Sinton's licensing is due to take place as part of the Eucharist service, the prime act of worship in the Christian community.

Parishioners' approval

The congregation at the service will witness her renewing her commitment to serving Christ.

The chaplain added: "She will also then take the oath of allegiance to the Queen.

"Finally, she will take the oath of canonical obedience to the bishop, which is the license itself."

The licensing comes after a survey of parishioners at St Mary's in Shipley indicated support for the appointment.

"She will become the priest-in-charge, which means she is responsible for the Anglican church for that parish," said Mr Biddle.

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