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
"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