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Synod backs women bishops

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The Church of England has voted to allow women to become bishops for first time in its history. 

9468859165_913513744a_oIts ruling General Synod gave approval to legislation introducing the change by the required two-thirds majority. A previous vote in 2012 was backed by the Houses of Bishops and Clergy but blocked by traditionalist lay members, BBC reported.

In a statement issued by Lambeth Palace later, Archbishop Welby said: “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.”

The Archbishop of York said it was a “momentous day”.

He said: “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.”

Mr Cameron said it was a “great day for the Church and for equality”.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg praised Archbishop Welby’s “leadership” on securing the Yes vote, adding that it was a “big moment” for the Church of England.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was “wonderful news”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said he was “delighted” but some opponents said they were unconvinced by the concessions offered to them.

The crucial vote in the House of Laity went 152 in favour, 45 against, and there were five abstentions. In November 2012 the change was derailed by just six votes cast by the lay members.

In the house of Bishops, 37 were in favour, two against, and there was one abstention. The House of Clergy voted 162 in favour, 25 against and there were four abstentions.

Before he announced the vote, the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, asked for the result to be met “with restraint and sensitivity”. But there was a flurry of cheers when it was announced.

The result overturned centuries of tradition in a Church that has been deeply divided over the issue.

It comes more than 20 years after women were first allowed to become priests. More than one-in-five of priests in the church are now female.

The motion will now go before Parliament’s ecclesiastical committee, which examines measures from the Synod. The Synod would then meet again on 17 November to formally declare that women can be bishops.

The first woman bishop could potentially be appointed by the end of the year. The vote followed after almost five hours of debate at the University of York.

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