The general synod of the Church of England voted overwhelmingly today in favor of allowing women to become priests.
The controversial question of whether women should be ordained will now be considered by diocesan synods, and the change ultimately must be approved by both houses of Parliament and by the queen.
Archbishop of Canterbury Robert A. K. Runcie said before the measure was approved, "I remain of the conviction that the ordination of women to the priesthood ought to be construed as an enlargement and extension of the historic Christian ministry."
The vote in favor of women priests in the three-tiered general synod, or church Parliament, was 34 to 17 among bishops, 149 to 85 among clergy and 144 to 78 among laity, with three abstentions.
Women favoring ordination maintained a 24-hour vigil ending Monday night outside the church leader's home at London's Lambeth Palace.