Church of England delays vote on women bishops

July 11, 2012

The Church of England’s General Synod has decided to delay a final vote on allowing women to become bishops until a meeting in London this November.

Proposed legislation on July 9 at the General Synod, the church’s governing body, would have created a two-tier system in which female bishops and men who ordained women or who had been ordained by women would fall under a separate category.

The House of Bishops had introduced an amendment in which a church that objected to the authority of a woman could request a male replacement. Senior Anglican campaigners condemned the amendment, saying it would have legitimized discriminatory laws in the United Kingdom.

The House of Bishops will now meet in September to take another look at its proposal.

“It’s a victory for the Church of England, which has issued a resounding no to discrimination,” said Christina Rees, a member of the General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council. “Had this measure been approved it would have had the effect of discriminating against people who believe men and women are equal.”

The decision to delay further debate gives the bishops about four months to come up with a fresh plan to allow women to hold senior jobs in the Church of England, while also seeking to satisfy traditionalists who don’t accept the authority of women.

Amid the debate, a woman was appointed to head one of England’s top two cathedrals. The appointment of Vivienne Faull as dean of York makes her the most senior female in the Church of England. Faull succeeds Keith Jones, who retired in April. She is expected to take up her post in September.

There are only three other female deans in England.  —RNS