Church of England appoints its first woman bishop

Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:05am EST
 
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By Phil Noble

STOCKPORT, England (Reuters) - The Church of England appointed its first female bishop on Wednesday, overturning centuries of tradition in a Church that has been deeply divided over the issue.

It named Reverend Libby Lane, a 48-year-old married mother of two, as the new Bishop of Stockport in northern England.

Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "Congratulations to Revd Libby Lane on becoming the first woman bishop in the Church. An historic appointment and important day for equality."

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, spiritual head of the Church, said she was a "wonderful choice."

After long and heated debate, the Church of England governing Synod voted in July to allow women to become bishops and formally adopted legislation last month.

Women have served as priests in the Church since 1994, a decision that prompted some 470 male priests to leave in protest, many for the Roman Catholic Church.

“It is an unexpected joy for me to be here today," Lane said in her acceptance speech. "It is a remarkable day for me and I realize an historic day for the church."

She added: “I am conscious this morning of countless women and men who for decades have looked forward to the time when the Church of England would announce its first woman bishop.”   Continued...

 
Libby Lane, a suffragan (Assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Chester, speaks after her forthcoming appointment as the new Bishop of Stockport was announced in the Town Hall in Stockport, northern England December 17, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble