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Obituaries

Monica Furlong, 72; Helped Lead Drive for Women Priests in Church of England

January 30, 2003|From Associated Press

LONDON — Monica Furlong, a Christian writer and feminist who was a leading figure in the successful campaign to ordain women priests in the Church of England, has died. She was 72.

Furlong died in London of cancer Jan. 14, the weekly Church Times said.

In a lengthy obituary, the weekly described her as "a witty and irreverent, but deeply faithful commentator on national and church life."

Furlong was one of eight women ejected from St. Paul's Cathedral in London in 1980 for staging a silent protest in favor of the ordination of women. In 1982, she became moderator of the Movement for the Ordination of Women.

The church's governing General Synod voted in November 1992 to ordain women, but Furlong opposed its compromise of appointing two so-called flying bishops to serve traditionalists who refused to accept women priests or the bishops who ordained them.

In her book, "C of E: The State It's In," which was published in 2000, Furlong called the compromise "a kick in the teeth for women priests that would make their future standing precarious and their work harder."

Born in Kenton, which is northwest of London, and baptized an Anglican, Furlong knew from an early age that she wanted to be a journalist, a way of communicating that bypassed her severe stammer.

As a freelance journalist, Furlong wrote for the Guardian newspaper from 1956-61, covering a variety of emotional and socio-sexual issues and explaining her personal commitment to the Christian faith. She later wrote for the Daily Mail.

Furlong joined the British Broadcasting Corp. in 1974, producing religious programs.

In 1965, she wrote "With Love to the Church," which was about her disillusionment with the established church's apparent inability to relate to many people of goodwill.

Her other books include a biography of the Trappist monk Thomas Merton.

She is survived by a son and a daughter.

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