Church of England Moves Toward Allowing Women Bishops

The Church of England took a step toward allowing women to become bishops on Monday when the House of Bishops approved some widely-debated legislation after making only a few amendments.

During the meeting, the House approved some key amendments for those who hold to more conservative theological views, The Telegraph reports, including an exception that would allow those who are opposed to women bishops to submit themselves to an alternative male bishop if they felt the need to do so.

"The legislation now addresses the fact that for some parishes a male bishop or male priest is necessary but not sufficient," the House said in a statement.

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"The House rejected more far- reaching amendments that would have changed the legal basis on which bishops would exercise authority when ministering to parishes unable to receive the ministry of female bishops."

Many of those who support having women bishops, however, are not happy with the compromise. The Independent reports that Women And The Church (WATCH), a campaign group that hopes to see women in all the same roles as men within The Church of England, isn't happy with the amendments the House tacked-on to the legislation.

The House of Bishops "failed to listen to the voice of ordained women and those who support their ministry and [have] been swayed by those who are opposed into making concessions that can only undermine the ministry of women in future years," said WATCH.

According to The Church of England's website, the possibility of women becoming a deacon, priest or bishop has been in major discussion since 1966. After decades of debate, the first women deacons were ordained in 1987 and the first women priests were ordained at Bristol Cathedral in 1994.

The idea of having women bishops has generally been positively received by the church in recent years. The issue was brought into the limelight when Archdeacon Judith Rose asked the church's General Synod to explore the theological implications of women in the episcopacy back in July of 2000. In 2011, 42 out of 44 of the church's dioceses voted in support of the measure.

But not everyone believes women should be allowed to become bishops. Lest everyone assume that conservative Christian males are the only people against the measure, a group of more than 2,200 Anglican women also recently signed a petition declaring their opposition to it.

"Not all the women in the Church of England think having women bishops is a great idea – our petition proves that, and we ask our bishops to recognize that and make proper provision for us," Susie Leafe, General Synod member and organizer of the petition, said in a statement.

The petition says men and women are inherently equal, but states that "this is not an issue of equality but theology."

In an email to The Christian Post on Tuesday, Leafe further explained why she doesn't think women should be permitted to take on this new role.

"I'm opposed to women bishops because I believe that the Bible teaches that men and women are equal (equally created, equally sinful and equally saved) but different, so [they] have different responsibilities in the home and in the church – the family of God. I think these differences mean that men and women are not interchangeable," said Leafe.

She also stated that some people have already left The Church of England as a result of this legislation, and she anticipates that more will leave if it passes. The final vote for this legislation's approval could take place at the church's General Synod in July of this year.


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