Church of England Gives Final Vote Allowing Women to Become Bishops


The Church of England has formally adopted legislation which means its first female bishops could be ordained next year.

The amendment was passed with a show of hands at the general synod.

The first women priests were ordained in 1994, but to date they have not been able to take on the Church’s most senior roles.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the move meant the start of “a new way of being the church”.

But divisions remain between Anglicans who feel it is consistent with their faith and traditionalists who disagree.

The general synod voted to back plans for female bishops in July.

A prior move to allow women to stand as bishops was defeated in 2012 by six votes cast by lay members of the general synod, the law-making body of the Church of England.

‘Changing the Culture’
The vote on Monday at the general synod meeting at Church House in Westminster gave the final seal of approval to the legislation, following its passage through Parliament in October.

The final legislative requirements took place during a session chaired by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

The change means the addition of a sentence to Canon 33, stating: “A man or a woman may be consecrated to the office of bishop.”

Archbishop Welby said: “Today we can begin to embrace a new way of being the church and moving forward together. We will also continue to seek the flourishing of the church of those who disagree.”

Speaking before the vote, BBC Religious Affairs Correspondent Caroline Wyatt said it was “a mainly symbolic stage in this long process but it’s clearly an immensely historic and really significant one”.

Applications from women had already been considered for the vacancy at Southwell and Nottingham diocese, although no announcements will be made until January 2015, added our correspondent.

Gloucester, Oxford and Newcastle also number among the dioceses where new bishops will soon be appointed.

The decision has been welcomed by long-term campaigners for change, who see it as step towards widening female participation in the Church.

The Very Reverend Jane Hedges, the first female dean of Norwich, said she had previously thought she would not have seen it happen until after her retirement.

She said she thought “people were surprised at how quickly women were accepted as priests” but added the road to them becoming bishops had in some ways taken longer.

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