The Right Rev. Justin Welby, bishop of Durham, was named the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. Photo courtesy of Durham Cathedral

Church of England paves the way for women bishops

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) The Church of England’s governing body has approved new proposals that would allow women bishops to be ordained by this time next year.

The Right Rev. Justin Welby, bishop of Durham, was named the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. RNS photo courtesy Durham Cathedral

The Right Rev. Justin Welby, bishop of Durham, was named the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. RNS photo courtesy Durham Cathedral

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Meeting in London on Wednesday (Nov. 20), the church's General Synod passed a motion by 378-8, with 25 abstentions, that paves the way for the endorsement of women bishops. Bishops also approved a declaration that sets out guidance for parishes that reject female consecrations.

The package would end nearly two decades of bitter and damaging conflict, and the vote is a victory of sorts for the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who was appointed last year just as the General Synod came within six votes of allowing women bishops.

Welby called last year's defeat “a very grim day for women and their supporters," and vowed to find a way to allow women bishops without creating a schism within the church. Wednesday's vote also creates an ombudsman position to rule on disputes involving traditionalist clergy who oppose women bishops.

Following Wednesday's vote, Bishop Christopher Chessun of Southwark, in south London, described the passing of the motion as "nothing short of miraculous."

British Prime Minister David Cameron added: "I strongly support women bishops and I hope that the Church of England takes this key step to ensure its place as a modern church in touch without society."

Now that the package has been approved by General Synod, a draft declaration is expected to be endorsed at another meeting next February, and final approval is expected by November 2014.



  1. Nothing illogical here. CofE approves of female ordination, and bishops must first be priests.

  2. Who cares? Anglicans have no valid orders anyway, having repudiated them in the so-called Reformation. Let the ordain squirrels – won’t make any difference.

  3. Reformation also got rid of other non Biblical Roman practices including
    papal authority, ecclesiastical hierarchies, the worship of Mary and saints
    last rites and indulgences, the treasury of merit, purgatory, transubstantiation, veneration of relics etc.etc.
    No justification however, for the ordination of women or female bishops

  4. The above comments lack factual information. The Episcopal church in America does not ban Maryology,(In fact December is devoted to Mary including the tradition of the Blue Christmas Service) or the worship of saints, or the ordination of priests, deacons and Bishops. Ii is indeed a presbyterate, (college of priests & Bishops, as is the Roman church) & embraces all its history through its Roman Catholic past and the many contributors of the reformation, and the adaptations it had to make during the Revolutionary era to recognize separation of church from King. mIt recognizes the Pope ecumenically with deepest respect but does answer to the See of Canterbury. The opinions expressed are sadly lacking in reality. If you were to visit an Episcopal Church you would find much in common liturgically & historically with the Catholic mass.
    Athens difference is the adaptation to the real needs of the people it serves which the a Roman church has been unable to do. Each Friday night service at my Episcopalian seminary focuses on a saint’s feast, many of whom are also recognized in Roman tradition. Daily prayers include those from the order of St. Francis and all liturgy is based in scripture and The teachings of Aquinas (Summa Theologica), from Roman tradition. So I encourage you to investigate the facts rather than relying on hearsay or uninformed opinion.

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