Church of England Restarting Attempts to Introduce Female Bishops
3:25 pm, July 9th | by Colette McIntyre
The Church of England has renewed its attempts to introduce female bishops even though similar legislation was defeated last year. The General Synod, the Church’s governing body, voted in favor of ordaining female bishops, but it will be at least two years before the measure can be passed. If the new plan is approved by the law-making body, the first female bishop could be appointed as early as 2016.
The last attempt to permit women to be bishops was thrown out due to internal dissent, failing by six votes. A majority of the General Synod voted on Monday to restart work on the issue, qualifying it as a “matter of urgency.” Legislation will be drafted by a committee and reviewed later this year although the Huffington Post reports that it is “not likely to be given final approval before November 2015.”
“This time the Synod used a straightforward vote that just needed a simple majority. If it had been voted in this way in November it would have got through too,” said Church Times editor Paul Handley. Although the previous measure received 73 percent of the general assembly vote, it fell short of achieving the required two-thirds approval. Church conservatives could push the Synod to use the same voting system this time around.
If the reform is passed, “people of all parts of the Church will then have to live with the consequences,” said the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
He added: “It is difficult. People feel very passionately about this, and getting people who feel very passionately in opposite directions to work to a common objective is never easy. We all recognize that, whatever our particular view on this.”
Traditionalists are not pleased with the new proposal since concessions to the opponents of female bishops are no longer enshrined in the legislation itself; the House of Bishops’ proposals suggest that concessions should be relegated to a separate declaration by the synod or the bishops.
Women currently serve as Anglican bishops in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the good ol’ US of A. While the Church approved the ordination of female priests in 1992, it delayed in permitting female bishops due to opposition from its all-male clergy.