Date
16 December 2017
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby predicts that in 10 to 15 years half the Church of England’s bishops might be women. Photo: Guardian
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby predicts that in 10 to 15 years half the Church of England’s bishops might be women. Photo: Guardian

Church of England gives green light to female bishops

The Church of England has changed its laws to allow its first female bishops, who could be ordained next year.

Member of the general synod, the church’s legislative body, passed the amendment with a show of hands on Monday, the BBC reported.

The first female Anglican priests were ordained in 1994, but they have so far been blocked from the church’s top ranks, although they now make up about a third of the clergy.

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 the change is consistent with their faith and traditionalists who disagree.

An earlier attempt to allow women to qualify as bishops was defeated in 2012 by six votes cast by lay members of the general synod.

The vote on Monday gave the final seal of approval to the legislation, which Parliament passed last month.

One group that opposes the move — the conservative evangelical group Reform — says “the divine order of male headship” makes it “inappropriate” for women to lead dioceses.

Reform has estimated that at “least a quarter of the church” will find the change incompatible with their beliefs.

The legislation includes some measures to manage dissent, including introducing an independent reviewer who will oversee arrangements for parishes who want supervision from a male bishop.

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