BRISTOL, ENGLAND — THE Church of England's ordination of women this week comes a full 50 years after the first female priest in the wider Anglican communion.
Although the 32 women due to be made priests in Bristol's cathedral city Saturday are the first in the Church of England, other branches of the Anglican faith, including the Episcopal Church in the United States, have allowed female ministers for many years.
The women will not even be the first female pastors in Britain, as the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland already ordains women to its ministry.
Chroniclers of women's journey from the pew to the pulpit say the first woman to be ``priested'' was Lee Tim Oi, ordained in the Portuguese colony Macao in 1944 after World War II caused a shortage of male candidates.
US Episcopalians voted to allow women priests in the 1970s and Americans make up the majority of the 1,380 or so Anglican women priests around the world.
After all the ordinations planned for this year, the number of Anglican women priests will have nearly doubled to around 2,660, according to latest figures compiled by the church's administrative headquarters.
Other countries with Anglican woman priests include Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, India, Ireland, South Africa and various African states such as Burundi and Uganda. There are also four women Anglican bishops, two in the United States.