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Church of England votes for women bishops

By Sarah Mac Donald - 15 July, 2014

Church of EnglandSource: CoE/ICN/CNS

The General Synod of the Church of England on Monday gave its approval for women to become bishops.

The vote on the measure was carried by the required two-thirds majority in the three constituent parts of the Synod: the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity.

The voting results were as follows: 

House of Bishops: Yes 37,  No 2,  Abstentions 1;  House of Clergy: Yes 162,  No 25,  Abstentions 4
;  House of Laity: Yes 152,  No 45,  Abstentions 5


The first woman bishop could potentially be appointed by the end of the year.

The vote comes 18 months after the proposal was last voted upon in November 2012 when it failed to achieve the required two thirds majority in the House of Laity.

Responding to the vote outcome, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Justin Welby said, “Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today’s result. Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing.”

“The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds.”

“Very few institutions achieve this, but if we manage this we will be living our more fully the call of Jesus Christ to love one another.”

“As delighted as I am for the outcome of this vote, I am also mindful of those within the Church for whom the result will be difficult and a cause of sorrow,” he admitted.

“My aim, and I believe the aim of the whole church, should be to be able to offer a place of welcome and growth for all. Today is a time of blessing and gift from God and thus of generosity. It is not winner take all, but in love a time for the family to move on together.”

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, commented “This is a momentous day. Generations of women have served the Lord faithfully in the Church of England for centuries. It is a moment of joy today: the office of Bishop is open to them.”

“To those who ask ‘what took you so long?’ my answer is that every decision has a cost and there will be those within our body who will be hurting as a result of this decision. Our answer to the hurting should not be ‘get over it’ but rather ‘we will not let go until you have blessed us.'”

“We move slowly because we move together. But in moving together we achieve not only what is just but also model what is right. As the African Proverb says: ‘Whoever walks fast, travels alone. Whoever walks far, walks in the company of others.’”

When the General Synod took the first steps toward preparing for women bishops in 2008, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity warned, “Such a decision means a break from the apostolic tradition maintained by all the churches of the first millennium and is, therefore, a further obstacle for reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Church of England.”

But Fr Anthony Currer, who works on relations with Anglicans at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told Catholic News Service that the vote “is not creating a new reality for our dialogue” since other provinces of the Anglican Communion, including the United States and Canada, already have women bishops.

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