Church of England edges nearer to allowing women bishops

October 17, 2011

(Canterbury Cathedral, September 2005/Hans Musil)

The Church of England cleared another legislative hurdle to appointing women bishops, but traditionalist opponents warned on Monday the move was not a foregone conclusion. Some Anglican provinces already have women bishops, including Australia, the United States and Canada, but the ordination of women and homosexuals as bishops as well as same-sex marriages remain the most divisive issues facing the Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members worldwide.

The Church of England has voted in principle for women to be consecrated, and draft legislation is currently being looked at by its 44 dioceses, or groups of parishes, as part of its long legislative process. At the weekend, the diocese vote passed the 50 percent backing needed for it to go back to the Church’s parliament, or general synod, for a final vote next year.

The Church of England has struggled to find a way of keeping traditionalist Anglo Catholics and conservative evangelicals within the same broad church as liberals who are in favour of female bishops, resulting in the emergence of energetic lobby groups on either side of the debate.

Some disaffected traditionalist bishops and priests in the Church of England have decided to leave the Church and take up Pope Benedict’s offer to switch to Rome.

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