Church of England votes 'yes' to women bishops
By Tess Little
LONDON (Reuters) - The Church of England voted on Monday to allow women to become bishops, a historic decision which overturns centuries of tradition in a Church that has been deeply divided over the issue.
Two years ago, a similar proposal failed narrowly due to opposition from traditionalist lay members, to the dismay of modernisers, the Church hierarchy and politicians.
But after a five-hour debate on Monday, the General Synod, the governing body of the Church of England, voted overwhelmingly in favour of an amended plan at its meeting in the northern English city of York.
"Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years ago with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today's result," said Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans.
"Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases, disagreeing."
The issue over women bishops has caused internal division since the Synod approved female priests in 1992.
It has pitted reformers, keen to project a more modern image of the Church as it struggles with falling congregations in many increasingly secular countries, against a conservative minority which says the change contradicts the Bible.