THE Archbishop of Canterbury admitted on Thursday that
allowing women into the episcopate will be a "further difficulty"
on the road to unity with other Churches.
In a letter to the Church of England's ecumenical partners,
Archbishop Welby wrote that, while some denominations would warmly
welcome the vote at the General Synod on
Monday, others would considered it a mistake.
"It is clear to me that whilst our theological dialogue will
face new challenges, there is nonetheless so much troubling our
world today that our common witness to the Gospel is of more
importance than ever", he wrote.
The Roman Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said
in a statement after the Synod vote that "the decision of the
Church of England to admit women to the episcopate sadly places a
further obstacle on the path to this unity between us".
The statement affirmed the RC Church's commitment to ecumenical
dialogue, however, and thanked the House of Bishops for the
pastoral provision promised to traditional Catholics who opposed
Archbishop Welby acknowledged in his letter that the
Synod's decision had divided the C of E. "This is an occasion
of deep rejoicing for many, especially for many of the women clergy
in the Church of England. They feel that this decision affirms
their place and ministry in the life of the Church.
"For others in the Church of England, the decision may be a
source of disappointment and concern."
He quoted the five principles from the House of Bishops'
declaration, the third of which acknowledges that the C of E
shares the historic episcopate with Churches including the
Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which ordain only
men as priests and bishops.
"The Church of England acknowledges that its own clear decision
on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of
discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of
God," the third principle concludes.
The letter also praised the "Christian charity" of the Synod
debate and said there was a determination not to let sincere
theological differences split the Church in two.