The Church of England finally voted yesterday to let women become bishops - to the anger of many traditionalists. The move was passed by a comfortable majority at a tense gathering of its parliament, the General Synod, in York.
It ended 14 years of hand-wringing and faction-fighting, delighting Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and almost all of his fellow bishops. The decision freed the Church from the risk of intervention by politicians. MPs had threatened to step in to force the Church to accept women bishops in 2012, after a disastrously botched vote saw traditionalists narrowly block reform. David Cameron described yesterday's vote as "a great day for the Church and for equality". Ed Miliband said it was "wonderful news", while Nick Clegg called the decision a "long overdue step". But some evangelical conservatives and Anglo-Catholics - a branch of the Church which affirms its Catholic heritage - were left divided and angry, having long argued that the Bible and tradition do not permit women to become bishops. One said he had 'betrayed' his supporters, while others accused Synod members of being too worried about outside reaction. Their comments provoked protests from Church liberals and left the Synod chairman, the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, calling for quiet, telling its members not to behave like rowdy MPs. The first appointment may be seen as an anti-climax, with a woman picked to fill a junior post, subordinate to a male bishop. After the vote, the Archbishop of York led the General Synod in a rendition of We are Marching in the Light of God, with members clapping along, some even shedding tears of joy. Reverend Dr. Rosemarie Mallett, from Southwark diocese, said yesterday: 'I'm absolutely joyful, thank God after 20 years of very hard work we now have a decision that can help us work for everyone in the Church. Yesterday's vote came nearly 20 months after the Church's last attempt to approve a law allowing women bishops. The lost Synod vote in November 2012, left the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, humiliated and apparently with little hope of reviving the cause for several years.
But a new compromise, which allows scope for traditionalists to challenge the appointment of a female bishop in their parish, was brought to the vote in record time. The plan is based on the hope of compromise between opposing liberals and conservatives.
Archbishop Welby said CofE members must "continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds". He added: "As delighted as I am for the outcome of this vote I am also mindful of those within the Church for whom the result will be difficult and a cause of sorrow." During the debate, Guildford traditionalist Adrian Vincent said he would reverse his position from 2012 and vote in favour.
"By doing so, I am betraying what I believe, I am betraying those who trusted in me," he said. "I hope that the promised commitment to mutual flourishing is not a commitment that will run out of steam in a few years." But opponent Dr. Chik Kaw Tan, of Lichfield, said: "Men and women are equal but their roles are not interchangeable?...?if we allow the Church to be guided by secular thinking our teaching will soon unravel." In 2012, the House of Laity voted just six short of the necessary two to one majority. Yesterday, it voted 152 to 45 for women bishops. n
—Courtesy Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk)