Women bishops for the Church of England have come one step closer.
The Church of England’s dioceses* have now all voted in favour of the current draft legislation to enable women to be bishops. Manchester was the last diocese to vote and they approved the motion at a meeting of their Synod yesterday. In 2011 both London and Chichester diocesan synods voted against the legislation.
The February 2014 meeting of General Synod referred the current Women in the Episcopate legislation to the dioceses.
Diocesan Synods all voted in favour of the motion: ‘That this Synod approve the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and draft Amending Canon No 33.’
For the motion to be carried the houses of clergy and laity had to each vote, by a simple majority, in favour.
The table attached records the votes in favour and against, and any recorded abstentions in each house. The draft legislation will now go before General Synod in July for a Final Approval vote.
Women and the Church (WATCH) have responded with this press release:
Women and the Church (WATCH) is delighted and hugely encouraged by the overwhelming support given by 100% of diocesan synods for the new Women in the Episcopate legislation. Such a resounding endorsement, including from the dioceses of London and Chichester which voted against last time, gives us significant hope and encouragement for the final vote at General Synod in July.
Chair of WATCH, Hilary Cotton said, ‘This is really, really good news in the lead-up to the Final Approval vote. In most dioceses over 90% of votes were cast in favour: surely General Synod cannot turn their backs on this again?’
There’s a way yet to go, but church leaders and politicians are getting ready to respond promptly when it’s all over, with a plan to fast – track women bishops into the House of Lords:
Women bishops could be fast-tracked into the House of Lords under plans backed by the Church of England’s current all-male episcopate.
The Church’s ruling General Synod is widely expected to give final approval for a historic change in church law, allowing women to become bishops and archbishops, when it gathers in York in July.
If the legislation is passed and receives Royal Assent, the first women bishops could be chosen by the end of this year or early 2015.
Nevertheless, under the rules, that could still mean a wait of several years before any women bishops take their places in the House of Lords.
But in a meeting behind closed doors, the current bishops agreed to open talks with political parties at Westminster to relax the rules to allow the first women bishops to join the Lords more quickly.
- Women bishops to be fast-tracked into House of Lords (telegraph.co.uk)
- Church of England Dioceses Approve Female Bishops (abcnews.go.com)
- Church of England dioceses approve female bishops (nzherald.co.nz)
- All dioceses say ‘yes’ to women bishops (christiantoday.com)
- Women Bishops vote should help the Church recover from its PR disaster (christiantoday.com)