CATHEDRAL bosses have been criticised for offering “untainted” Communion bread for those who object to it being consecrated by a woman priest.

Opponents in the church have branded giving those who object to women priests the alter-native of Communion bread consecrated by a man as “unacceptable and disgraceful”.

Blackburn Cathedral has introduced the choice in the wake of the installation of Dr Sue Penfold as a residentiary canon.

The cathedral’s canon, Andrew Hindley, defended the arrangement.

He said: “It was agreed by all the clergy and cathedral chapter that this was the best way to handle what we call a mixed economy.”

He said the congregation could choose wheth-er to receive Communion blessed by Dr Penfold, or Communion blessed by a male priest, at the main cathedral service on Sundays at 10.30am.

Canon Hindley added: “The position of the Dean and the Bishop is well known.

"This situation is not ideal, but we are trying to be inclusive.”

He said Dr Penfold was appointed to Blackburn Cathedral to reflect the “broad views” of the Church of England.

An announcement was made to worshippers when the policy was introduced last year, but the policy is implem-ented in a “very discreet manner”, according to Canon Hindley.

But Sally Barnes, from the group Women and the Church (WATCH), said: “To turn it into a buffet is unacceptable and disgraceful.

“Women are being labelled as tainted.

“Women are not tainted, but the hierarchy of the church is not able to grapple with this.

"Quite a few people in that area have complained about it.”

Even Forward in Faith, the Church’s traditionalist lobby group which opposes women bishops, described the arrangement as unusual.

Spokesman Stephen Parkinson said: “I’ve never come across this before and I think it is a bonkers arrangement.

"I can’t understand why the women priests put up with it.

"The whole situation pleases nobody.”

Dr Penfold and the Dean of the Cathedral are on holiday and not available for comment.