The recent ordination of eleven women as Episcopal priests in defiance of church rules has turned the spotlight on an escalating trend. Feminists of all denominations are beginning to demand an equal chance to serve in a traditionally male-dominated ministry. In the past, well-known female church leaders like Mary Baker Eddy and Aimee Semple MacPherson did their work outside the mainstream of organized Protestantism. Since the 1950's, though, most major Protestant churches have opened their ministry to women. Still, less than 2% of the nation's 380,000 clerics are women - and most of these belong to the smaller Pentecostal churches. But the number of organizations with women in the pulpit is rapidly rising. The worldwide Anglican communion and the Lutheran church have both ordained women, and in June 1972 the first woman was accepted into the Reformed Jewish rabbinate. Although a committee of U.S. Catholic bishops is studying whether the priesthood should be opened to women, Pope Paul remains a staunch holdout. He still sees women as "making a specific contribution to society by rearing children."
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