From today, women can be bishops in the Church of England

17 November 2014

GEOFF CRAWFORD

THE final barrier to women becoming bishops was removed on Monday, when the General Synod, meeting in Westminster, voted to promulge and execute the Amending Canon.

After the vote in July, which gave final approval  to the women bishops Measure (News, 18 July) and subsequent parliamentary approval, members of the Synod voted by a simple majority to formally enact the change in the law. A small minority of about 30 members voted against.

Speaking after the vote, the Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed the result, admitting that the process has taken a "very, very long time".

"It means, above all, that we have started a completely new phase of our existence as the Church," he said.

He told reporters he could not say with any certainty when the first women would be appointed bishop. "The Archbishops have just one vote out of 14 [on the Crown Nominations Committee - CNC] and our ability to control or prevent appointments is very limited. I know there are some very good people, and we hope that some will also find their way on to the bishops' bench."

He also said there was work going on behind the scenes to allow CNCs to be able to have a fair choice between men and women.

"We are working very hard on the training and development of people, men and women, for senior positions in the Church," Archbishop Welby said. "The aim is you end up with a big pool of people where gender is irrelevant." Those against the ordination of women would also be involved in this process, he promised.

​If bishops retire as expected, Archbishop Welby said, women could make up half the College of Bishops within ten to 15 years.

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