Divided Church of England renews pledge to ordain women bishops

Mon Jul 8, 2013 1:17pm EDT
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By Adam Jourdan

LONDON (Reuters) - The Church of England's law-making body voted on Monday in favor of ordaining women bishops, but it will be at least two years before the measure, opposed by a minority of traditionalists, can be passed.

The vote was a boost for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby who became head of the 80 million-member Anglican church in January, a few weeks after a blocking minority defeated the last attempt to allow women bishops in the English church, after 10 years of divisive debate.

After several hours of talks in York at the Anglican body's national assembly, the General Synod, members voted overwhelmingly to pursue reforms to allow women bishops as a "matter of urgency".

A committee will draft legislation that will be reviewed later this year but it is not likely to be given final approval before November 2015.

" affirms an inclusive approach that is consistent with our previous resolution: the commitment to ordaining women bishops on exactly the same basis as men, and the flourishing together of all parts of the Church," said Welby, 57, who is seeking to modernize the image of the church.

Dozens of Synod members spoke to urge the Church to move forward from the "train crash" of November's shock result at the assembly - when a decision to ordain women bishops failed by six votes - and to return to a "path of reconciliation".

"This better-than-expected result has drawn a line under last year's disaster and lays the foundation for new legislation to permit women to be bishops," said Robert Key, chair of the House of Laity, one of the Synod's three chambers.

"It is only the start of a two-year process, but the Church of England is on the march again under new management."   Continued...

The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, attends his enthronement ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, southern England March 21, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville