Church of England may ordain women as bishops
The church may consider the proposal after members of its ruling body on Thursday overwhelmingly backed a motion on the issue.india Updated: Feb 10, 2006 20:23 IST
The Church of England is to look in greater detail at proposals for ordaining women bishops after members of its ruling body on Thursday overwhelmingly backed a motion on the issue.
Some 348 members of the General Synod, sitting in London, voted to explore further Transferred Episcopal Arrangements (TEAs) -- which were put forward to stave off a split on the matter by traditionalists -- with just one against.
TEAs were proposed by the church's House of Bishops and recommend opening up all posts to female clergy, including that of the highest-ranking cleric, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
But the Crown Nominations Commission, which approves such appointments, would be able to block such a move if it considered that neither the Church of England nor the wider Anglican community was ready for a woman in the post.
TEAs also contain compromises to opponents of women clergy, for example allowing for the appointment of a group of male bishops to care for parishes which rejected female bishops.
Before Thursday's vote, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told synod members that they were in "uncharted territory" but insisted that keeping the status quo was not an option.
He acknowledged the strong views expressed on the issue over the years but said that clerics were recognising that there are circumstances where "integrity need not mean absolute division".
"'We are all in schism', as somebody said many years ago. It is not a question of legislating for schism or providing for schism or whatever. We are already there," Williams told the delegates.
"The question is how we handle it prayerfully, mindfully and decently, and, I would add, hopefully."
Women were first ordained as priests in the Church of England in 1994, a move that sparked controversy and resulted in a walkout by some traditionalists. More than 1,000 parishes have voted to reject women priests.
The Church is also bitterly split over the separate issue of homosexual clergy.