Church of England votes against women bishops

Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:20pm EST
 

By Alessandra Prentice

LONDON (Reuters) - The Church of England voted on Tuesday against allowing women to become bishops, guaranteeing more internal strife over an issue that has for years divided the mother church for the world's 80 million Anglicans.

After hours of debate, bishops and clergy in the General Synod, the Church legislature, comfortably backed the change but lay members were four votes short of a two-thirds majority.

"It was carried in the houses of bishops and clergy, but lost in the house of laity. The motion having been lost ... we do not proceed any further," said the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu.

Some women priests in the public gallery wiped away tears, knowing the measure cannot now be approved for at least another five years.

"Senior women clergy must feel despondent and most bishops and most clergy, male or female, feel hugely sad and, worse than sad, embarrassed and angry," said Christina Rees, a Synod member and former chair of the advocacy group Women and the Church.

"Women bishops will come, but this is an unnecessary and an unholy delay."

Women already serve as Anglican bishops in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, but Anglican churches in many developing countries oppose any female clergy and are working together to shield themselves against such reforms.

The Church of England finds itself somewhere in the middle, struggling to reconcile the views of reformers and traditionalists.   Continued...

 
The outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams speaks at the Assembly Hall of Church House, during a meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England in London November 20, 2012. REUTERS/Yui Mok/POOL