As the Archbishop of Canterbury was traveling to Cambridge last Saturday to participate in the 350th celebration, a major controversy about the role of women in the Anglican Church was erupting in London.
On October 4, the day Archbishop Robert A.K. Runcie arrived at Harvard, a woman ordained in the Church of England gave Holy Communion, defying Church law.
The Rev. Joyce Bennett led a communion service attended by the Bishop of Kingston and 40 other clergymen in Church House, London.
The Anglican Church allows women to become priests but prohibits them from conducting communion services. Bennett--who was ordained in Hong Kong and is now affiliated with St. Martin-in-the-Field, London--held the communion service during the annual meeting of the London-based Movement for the Ordination of Women.
Spokesmen at Runcie's Lambeth Palace headquarters issued a statement lambasting what they called Bennett's"disregard for the clearly understood presentregulations of the Church of England."
Runcie said last night that he knew ofBennett's actions immediately prior to hisdeparture from England but had not learned all thedetails.
According to the London Press Association, "Dr.Runcie wanted an immediate account" after hisstaff contacted him at Harvard.
"I personally support the ordination of womeninto the priesthood," the Archbishop said lastnight. "But I don't think that by breaking therules, she [Bennett] will serve the purpose shehopes for."
"Changing the church laws is a slow process,"he said. "But it will happen, it will happen," hesaid.
The governing body of the Church House alsoissued a statement, calling Bennett's performingthe Holy Communion "an affront to the Queen," whois the figurehead of the Church of England