Church of England votes against women bishops

Female members of the clergy leave after the Church of England's draft legislation approving women bishops failed to pass the General Synod at Church House in central London today.

Women in the Church of England hoping to rise to the position of bishop will have to wait at least another five years.

Draft legislation approving female bishops today failed to pass the church’s governing body, the General Synod, by the narrowest of margins, extending decades of debate on the issue, the Agence France-Presse reported.

Opponents, some of whom argue that God intended men rather than women to be in leadership roles, gathered enough support among lay members of the General Synod to block the plan, Bloomberg reported.

The Associated Press explained that the legislation required approval by two-thirds majorities in the General Synod’s three houses: bishops, priests and laity.

It succeeded in the first two groups, but failed by just six votes among the laity, the AFP said.

“It’s very disappointing that the vote was lost so narrowly,” Graham Jones, the Bishop of Norwich, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying.

“The House of Bishops will be meeting very early in the morning to take counsel, pray together and see how we can move forward together as a church.”

The measure allowing female bishops has been on the church’s agenda “since at least 1966,” according to the Church of England’s website.

Since then it has garnered strong support. 

The Telegraph reported that 42 of the church’s 44 dioceses have backed women bishops “as part of a tortuous 12-year legal process.”

It could take five years for new legislation to reach a final vote, the AP said.

The vote came three days after the Anglican Church in Swaziland ordained a female bishop, its first in Africa, the AP said.

Women already serve as bishops in sister churches of the Anglican Communion in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, Reuters noted.

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