LONDON — Seventy-one women were ordained Sunday as deacons of the Church of England in the largest ordination of females in Christian history.
As deacons, the women may carry out all the duties of a priest except for formal blessings, communion and absolving sins.
The ordination was conducted at London's St. Paul's Cathedral by Bishop of London Graham Leonard.
It follows a controversial Church of England synod vote last month to draw up legislation permitting the ordination of women as priests. Leonard favors women deacons but was among opponents of their ordination as priests.
Opponents say the 400-year-old Church of England would face a serious split if the legislation went through.
Women have been accepted as deacons in the Anglican Church since 1980.