Anglicans, in row, may cut women bishops’ powers

October 9, 2009

schoriThe Church of England could restrict the powers of some women bishops under a plan designed to end a rift between traditionalists who want to keep the all-male senior clergy and liberals demanding equality.  The proposal has reignited the long-running debate over a supposed ecclesiastical “stained-glass ceiling” that stops women from attaining the most senior roles in the church.

The Church of England body reviewing the law on women bishops, the Revision Committee, has voted to change the rules to remove certain powers from female bishops in dioceses where they face opposition from traditionalists. Specially-appointed male bishops would assume those powers and the new system would be written into British law, the committee said in a statement.

(Photo: Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the U.S. Episcopal Church, 4 Nov 2006/Jonathan Ernst)

While Anglicans in the United States, Canada and Australia already have women bishops, conservatives in many other parts of the Communion strongly oppose them. They say there is nothing in the Bible or church history to support women bishops. Liberals, who argue that women should be treated equally, said the latest proposals to allow women bishops, albeit with reduced powers in some areas, risked creating a two-tier church.

“Where there are parishes who don’t recognize women bishops and want to look to another bishop, that diocesan bishop’s duties and responsibilities to those parishes would be reduced automatically,” a Church of England spokesman said. “Those duties would pass to this other bishop.”

Read the whole story here.

Church of England statement “Revision Committee on Women in the Episcopate”

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