Comprehensive pupil, poly student, nurse … and now the C of  E’s most powerful ever senior female cleric

May 13, 2018 by

by Harriet Sherwood, Guardian:

Sarah Mullally, the new bishop of London, wants more women in top ecclesiastical roles.

In the grandeur of St Paul’s Cathedral, far removed from the busy hospital wards where she once worked as a nurse, Sarah Mullally made history on Saturday when she was installed as the bishop of London, becoming the most senior female cleric ever in the Church of England.

The 90-minute ceremony – on the birthday of Florence Nightingale – marked a break with tradition in more than just gender.

The 133rd bishop of London is also a former comprehensive school pupil whose career before she was ordained as a priest at the age of 40 was in the NHS.

“There aren’t many bishops who come from comprehensive schools, who are poly [polytechnic] girls and who did [part-time training] for the priesthood,” she told the Observer in an interview before the service.

“It’s not just gender, it’s also your background that’s equally important. Some of these things are changing. Leadership in the church needs to reflect the communities we serve. There is work to do about how we encourage vocations from people who may be working-class, people who’ve not had a traditional straightforward academic pathway, people from BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] groups. The system may need to be different.”

The appointment of Mullally, 56, to the No 3 position in the church after the archbishops of Canterbury and York surprised many who believed the capital’s strong conservative traditions ruled out a female bishop. Mullally will also become the first bishop of London to ordain male and female priests; her predecessor, Richard Chartres, declined to ordain either in order to avoid a backlash from traditionalists.

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The Sunday Times today (Nicholas Hellen) gives her views on abortion as follows:
In 2013 she described it [her stance on abortion] as “pro-choice rather than pro-live [sic], although if it were a continuum I would be somewhere along it moving towards pro-life when it relates to my choice, and then enabling choice when it relates to others.”

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