- (Photo: http://www.churchinwales.org.uk)
The Church in Wales voted in a bill to legalize women bishops for the first time on Thursday, marking a historic occasion that is likely to increase pressure on the larger Church of England to follow suit.
"This is an historic day for the Church in Wales. I am absolutely delighted. I am amazed that it was carried through with an overwhelming majority," The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said following the vote. The Laity voted 57 for and 14 against; the clergy backing the bill 37 to 10, and the bishops unanimously in favor.
"However, I am aware that there will be some people who will be disappointed and as Bishops we will now make sure that we pay particular attention to draw up pastoral provision for them," Morgan added.
There has been a decades-long push in the Anglican Communion to allow women to be considered for the highest positions in the church, though conservatives have said that such a move would not be Biblical and would not align with Jesus selecting only males to serve as his disciples.
The Rev. Justin Welby, the leader of the Church of England, has said that he expects women to be ordained as bishops during his lifetime, and expressed his disappointment that a major vote on Nov. 20, 2012 at the General Synod failed to get the support it needed to change the requirements for bishops.
Although the majority of voters were in favor of female bishops, voting 132 for and 74 against, that was just six votes short of the required two-thirds majority needed to pass the bill.
"It's clear those women are going to be bishops in the Church of England," Welby said at the time.
"It was a pretty grim day for the whole church. There is a lot to be done but I am absolutely confident that at some point I will consecrate a woman bishop."
The bill voted in on Thursday at the Church in Wales had gone through an amendment which allowed a "code of practice" to be written in for Bishops who cannot accept the authority of women bishops.
"I am relieved and hugely thankful that the Church in Wales has cleared the way for a woman to be elected as a bishop when the time is right," added the Archdeacon of Llandaff, the Venerable Peggy Jackson.
"Now we have to turn our attention to those who are hurting today and do everything that we can so that they can feel secure and stay in the Church in which they belong."