Church of England Votes for Women Bishops

Historic Vote Will Be Further Obstacle to Reconciliation With Catholic Church

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The Anglican Church of England will allow women bishops after an historic vote during the ecclesial community’s general synod.

The Daily Telegraph reports that 81 per cent of synod members backed the change, during the sitting in the English city of York on Monday, and 75 per cent of the laity supported the move.

The result of the ballot, which will be formally passed after two further votes this afternoon have been completed, clears the way for the first female clerics to be ordained as Anglican bishops by the end of this year, if the legislation is quickly ratified by Parliament.

The vote also means that the next Archbishop of Canterbury or York – two of the most important sees in the Anglican Communion – could be a woman.

The vote comes just 20 months after the previous attempt to admit women to the episcopate failed despite overwhelming support in congregations, casting the church into its biggest crisis of authority in recent memory.

Many traditionalist Anglicans are opposed to the move. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rev. Justin Welby, has tried to reassure them that theological objections to women’s ministry would enjoy special provision in the ecclesial community.

The motion will now go before the House of Lords. British Prime Minister David Cameron is a firm backer of ordaining Anglican women bishops and believes it will ensure the Church of England of “its place as a modern church, in touch with our society.”

Parts of the Anglican Communion already have women bishops but as the Church of England is considered the «mother church» of the ecclesial community, the move is seen as more significant, especially in terms of ecumenism.

The Vatican has frequently made clear its opposition to the move. In a 2008 statement, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said such a decision would mean “a break from the apostolic tradition maintained by all the churches of the first millennium and is, therefore, a further obstacle to reconciliation.”


On the NET:

Statement from the bishops’ conference of England and Wales

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