In a rare pastoral letter read in the Church of England's thousands of churches on Sunday, Oct. 8, the archbishops of Canterbury and York appealed for more men to come forward for ordination.
The Anglican primates - Dr. Donald Coggan of Canterbury and Dr. Stuart Blanch of York - said they were united in welcoming experiments in new forms of ministry, in taking advantage of them, and in "preparing men for them." Nowhere in their letter did they refer to women.
"If we are to maintain and increase this momentum, our need for a dedicated, well qualified and full-time ordained ministry will be even greater than in the past," the prelates asserted.
"The House of Bishops and the General Synod have recently given most careful consideration to this subject," their letter went on. "We are united in welcoming experiments in new forms of ministry, in taking full advantage of them, and in preparing men for them. At the same time, we are totally convinced that the full-time ordained ministry must be maintained at least at its present size.
"In recent years we have been ordaining too few. This means that we now need to increase the number of men ordained each year by at least half as many again. In 1977, 301 new deacons were ordained: we wish to see this figure steadily rise to between 400 and 450 a year."