A historical vote is close to end 40 years of females unable to become bishops. The General Synod of Church of England voted to allow women bishop in a high proportion. Women priests are common for over two decades ago, and the first female bishop started her activity in 1989. 81 percent of Synod members voted for, while 75 percent of laity supported this decision.
The formal pass of this decision will be cleared only if the legislation will be ratified by the Parliament.
There was a long campaign for this inclusion and after the failure from 20 months ago, when another attempt to pass women in church as bishops, this is good news as well as a reassurance of Church’s authority. Campaigners for women equality often attacked the Church’s staff structure for failing to promote women. As previous research has shown, a woman success is seen as threat for men, an explanation which might partially be available for the lack of change in clergy gender positions.
As with other major pieces of legislation, the change needs to be supported by two thirds of each of all three “houses” of the General Synod – bishops, clergy and laity. According to BBC, two thirds of voters said yes for female bishops. The House of Bishops had 37 votes in favor, and only two against with one non-response. The House of Clergy had 162 in favor, 25 against and four non-responses. The House of Laity had 152 votes for, 45 against, and five non-responses.
To Allow Women Bishop Positions means a victory of supporters of gender equality in Church
The public gallery of the Synod vote was made of female clerics, campaigners and supporters all dressed symbolically in pink or wearing pink ribbons. From their inclusion in Church clergy, women have made up to one third of its staff, but often in low-paid or unpaid low-profile jobs, which held them in inferior and unstable position over the years.
In an otherwise rather traditional stance, Archbishop Welby had an after vote speech in which he stated the Church will make changes, but also make sure the traditionalists doesn’t feel rejected by the inclusion of female bishops. This might be the reason that some concessions will be made to individual parishes, in case they decide they will not allow women bishop to take positions in Church. In this cases, they will have the right to ask for a male alternative and they will also have a right to independent arbitration if disputes rise.
Some voices of lay members disapproved and gave a speech remembering the Bible did not include female apostles and that this inclusion would signify an act against it. Furthermore, a Church split was predicted in case the vote would be ratified.