Adelaide female Anglican priest barred from practising because of marriage to woman

By Ben Nielsen
October 04, 2020

Adelaide-based Anglican priest Sorel Coward says she has been denied the right to celebrate sacraments.
Photo by Ben Nielsen

Anglican Archbishop of Adelaide Geoffrey Smith.

St Peter's Anglican Cathedral in North Adelaide.

An Adelaide-based Anglican priest has accused the church of discrimination after she was refused permission to say mass and celebrate sacraments because of her marriage to another woman.

Sorel Coward sought approval from Archbishop of Adelaide Geoffrey Smith last year, but she said he had since denied her permission to officiate.

Sorel Coward was ordained almost 25 years ago but never practised as a priest in Adelaide — but had been approved in different Australian jurisdictions until 2005 before affirming her gender.

She transitioned from male to female in 2014 and said the church now classified her marriage as same-sex.

But she said she does not identify as homosexual and instead refers to her relationship as "same-gender".

She said she had regularly corresponded with the archbishop about the matter.

"The archbishop was very polite to me. He said that my situation was neither unique nor unusual," she said.

She said she had the support of her community, but calls to have her appointed had been met with silence.

Priest committed to marriage

The Anglican Church in Australia does not recognise same-sex relationships.

"My wife and I have been happily married for 28 years," Sorel Coward said.

"I'm not going to have my marriage or my orders put into question.


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