25 JULY 1992, Page 25

Sir: John Gummer fears an Anglican split through the existence,

as he alleges, of a `scheme to permit the ordination of women'. What scheme?

Ordination is already permitted to women in the Church of England. The Canons of 1969 (section D) refer to the dia- conate as an 'order of ministry' to which `women are admitted by prayer and the lay- ing on of hands by the bishop'.

If he means `priesting', why not say so? The `priesting' of women is quite another matter. Objections to this are Jewish rather than Christian in origin and rely on the argument that women's uncleanness debars them from approaching the holy of holies. Does John Gummer agree with this argu- ment? If he does, again, why not say so?

It is a great pity that inaccuracy — to say nothing of prejudice — should continue, at such a crucial stage, to stifle any serious theological debate. Perhaps this is what is intended.

Elizabeth Noel

9 Courtnell Street, London W2