Church of England votes to allow female bishops

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, right, breaks for lunch with his chaplain Jo Wells during the Church of England General Synod in York.
(Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images)

The Church of England has voted to allow bishops who are women.

The change had been debated for years and has been a source of deep division within the church. A two-thirds vote in each of the church’s three houses was required to pass the measure. A similar vote in 2012 failed, dimming supporters’ hopes it would become reality in the forseeable future.

The vote tally was read out soberly, but some supporters broke out in cheers as it became clear the two-thirds line had been reached.

One caveat: According to the BBC, the measure contains some concessions for individual parishes that object to female bishops.


The archbishop of Canterbury had said earlier he was hopeful the church’s governing body would approve the change, and British Prime Minister David Cameron had backed the idea of women bishops, as well.

Women have been allowed to serve as priests in the Church of England for two decades. The Church of England is considered the mother church of the Anglican Communion, but various branches, including the American Episcopal church, subscribe to varying rules.

The first woman bishop in the Episcopal church was ordained in 1989.

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