Church of England Backs Women Bishops

LONDON – The Church of England General Synod officially approved the concept of women bishops as "theologically justified" by 288 votes to 119 in York this weekend.

The vote by the Church of England ruling body, which resulted from a two-and-a-half-hour debate led by the Archbishop of York, sees the introduction of women bishops move one step closer.

Dr John Sentamu called for the Synod to “welcome and affirm” the views of the majority of the House of Bishops that women bishops should be accepted to the episcopate. In answer to this call, more than two-thirds of the Synod supported him.

The Synod also approved the statement that it would be a “proper development in proclaiming afresh, in this generation, the grace and truth of Christ.” Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams will address the Synod on Monday to support setting up a legislative drafting group to tackle the issue.

Already in 2005 it was decided in principle that the obstacles to the ordination of women as bishops should be removed, and during this weekend’s Synod just 119 members, including the Bishop of London, the Rev Richard Chartres, voted against the move.

Currently 14 of the 38 worldwide Anglican Churches have already decided to give their consent to women bishops.

Dr. Sentamu said, “I must pay tribute to Anglican women who have been tested for nearly 90 years. They have kept the faith and remained loyal to the Church of England.”

However, the second-most senior member of the Church of England admitted that the decision would not be welcomed by the Roman Catholic Church. “It would become more difficult for Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox to regard a church with women bishops as part of the universal Catholic Church,” he said.

Women were first ordained as Church of England priests in 1994, and there are now more than 2,000 women Anglican priests. Many say that since that move was made, it naturally follows that women must also be allowed to become bishops.

Christina Rees, Chair of the Women and the Church group, according to BBC News 24 said, “This is a very strong message that the General Synod is giving, that 'yes, we are now ready, we affirm the ordained ministry of women as deacons, as priests, and now we look forward to having women as bishops too.’”