According to a report due for release this autumn, there will be as many female priests as male by 2025. The study, entitled Religious Trends, concludes that without the rapid growth in the number of women being ordained - as many women will be becoming priests as men by the end of the decade - some parishes would be forced to close.More
Some dioceses, many of them in rural locations, already report a higher number of women being ordained than men.
The report estimates that by 2016 one in every three priests will be a woman. This year, 47 per cent of new priests have been female. In the Bath and Wells diocese, 13 out of the 16 priests ordained have been women. In Wakefield, it is 10 out of 14.
The Rev Charlie Allen, 27, a vicar in the village of Portchester, Hampshire, said that her decision to be ordained had been met with some surprise, but that being a woman priest had become much easier.
"It is not the obvious job that parents expect their daughters to do," she said.
"The traditional stereotype of the middle-aged male priest is part of the Church's historical legacy, so when I started five years ago people would be surprised to see a young female priest. That is no longer the case. It has ceased to be a great unknown or something for people to fear or be worried about."
Someone once said to me that what goes on in the Anglican church, especially the American branch, the Episcopalians, will find its way into the Catholic Church. Holy Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for us.