July 8, 2008
As Schism Lurks, the Church of England Endorses Women as Bishops
By JOHN F. BURNS
LONDON — The governing body of the Anglican Church in Britain voted on Monday to approve the appointment of women as bishops, a step that appeared to risk a schism in the church in its historic homeland as the Anglican church worldwide faces one of the most serious threats to its unity in its history, over the ordination of gay clergy members.
After a debate late into the night in the city of York, the General Synod of the Church of England, an assembly that holds ultimate authority on church doctrine in Britain, voted by comfortable margins within each of the synod's three houses — bishops, clergy and laity — to approve the consecration of women as bishops in the face of bitter opposition from traditionalists.
The vote came 16 years after the synod voted, after similarly fractious debate, to approve the ordination of women as ministers within the British church. But traditionalists unreconciled to the end of the male monopoly within the clergy revived the battle over the issue of approving women as bishops, warning that it could lead to a breakup of the church in Britain.
The move to approve women as bishops in Britain followed the lead taken by Anglican churches elsewhere; in the United States, Australia and Canada, women have been appointed as bishops for some years. Opponents of female bishops argue that Jesus, in choosing men for his 12 disciples, intended that men alone should have the responsibility of ministering to his followers.
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