Church of England breaks centuries-old tradition to allow female bishops

The Church of England on Monday broke with a centuries-old tradition by paving the way for the appointment of female bishops.

London: The Church of England on Monday broke with a centuries-old tradition by paving the way for the appointment of female bishops.

The vote at the general synod meeting at Westminster's Church House in central London gave the final seal of approval to a legislation passed through UK Parliament in October.

The general synod, the law-making body of the Church of England, had voted to back plans for female bishops back in July and following today's decision, the first female bishops will be in place by early next year.

Women priests were ordained in 1994 but to date they have not been able to take on the Church's most senior roles.

Divisions remain between Anglicans who feel it is consistent with their faith and traditionalists who disagree.

A prior move to allow women to stand as bishops was defeated in 2012 by six votes cast by lay members of the general synod.

The decision has been welcomed by long-term campaigners for change, who see it as step towards widening female participation in the Church.

The Very Reverend Jane Hedges, the first female dean of Norwich, said she had previously thought she would not have seen it happen until after her retirement.

Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, had hailed the historic vote earlier this year as "the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases, disagreeing".

The new legislation includes some safeguards to manage dissent, such as the introduction of an independent reviewer who will oversee arrangements for parishes who want oversight from a male bishop. 

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