A former opponent of the ordination of women to the priesthood,
Bishop David Ball of Albany, has announced that he has changed his mind and
will begin ordaining women in his diocese.
In a March 22 letter to all of the congregations in his diocese, Ball said
that "I have come, not without difficulty, to the position that I see no
fundamental theological impediment to ordaining women as priests or
Although Ball decided three years ago to license women ordained in
other dioceses, his announcement represented a clear shift of policy for the
Diocese of Albany. Although he never signed its founding statement, Ball was
one of six active bishops who participated in the first meeting of the Episcopal
Synod of America, an organization that opposes the ordination of women in
the priesthood and what is perceives as other liberal trends in the church.
In a telephone interview Ball said that his change of heart on the matter
occurred after "I prayed about it, thought about it, and talked to other people
about it." He said that his experience of receiving the sacrament from and
worshiping with the women he had licensed "was obviously a factor" in his
"I am very sensitive to the fact that ordaining women as priests and
bishops and their functioning in these capacities are matters of deep and
serious concern to Christians in general and to persons in our diocese in
particular," Ball said in his letter. "Some in our diocese will be
delighted... others will be deeply distressed. I am sure you know that it has
not been an easy decision for me."
Ball said that he was not taking a head count of responses to his
decision, but characterized reaction in the diocese as "more affirmative."
Still, he admitted that there are people in the diocese "who are disappointed
and feel I have done the wrong thing."
Ball said that he had recently approved a woman for postulancy and
that "three years from now, if I am still alive and well, my intention is to
ordain her to the priesthood."