Bishop of London mobbed by angry women priests.
Hirsute Richard Chartres ( 91 ) was attacked outside St Paul’s Cathedral by a group of protestors from WATCH (Women and The Church) in response to recent remarks about priests with beards.
In an article for The Church Times chronicling the long history of bearded clergy Chartres wrote:
The discovery that two of the most energetic priests in east London had recently grown beards of an opulence that would not have disgraced a Victorian sage prompted me to look again at the barbate debate throughout Church history. The two priests work in parishes in Tower Hamlets. Most of the residents are Bangladeshi-Sylheti, for whom the wearing of a beard is one of the marks of a holy man.
Their beards, Chartres implied, aided their pastoral work.
‘The Church of England has no business pandering to the blatant sexism of these immigrant communities’ said a WATCH spokesperson. ‘ This was a shameful slur on the evangelistic work of countless women priests in inner city communities, fighting female genital mutilation and bringing light and hope into that patriarchal darkness. Women priests stand for British Values. Sending a group of bearded reactionaries to work in this fruitful mission field is little short of scandalous’
An open letter from 45 women deans, archdeacons and bishops has demanded that Bishop Chartres shave his beard in solidarity with women clergy everywhere.
Lambeth Palace was reluctant to comment, but said that the Archbishop was always ready to initiate facilitated conversations.
The Church of England averages four converts from Islam a year