Church of England rejects Christian tradition and votes to allow women bishops
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While the Archbishop of York asked for the result to be met "with restraint and sensitivity," there were cheers among many Anglicans and Episcopalians when the Church of England voted to allow women to become bishops for first time in its history.The vote rejected the Catholic and Orthodox theology of Apostolic succession, the nature of the priesthood and the of sacraments. It also removes any real hopes for institutional and structural reunion of the Catholic, Orthodox and what is now called the Anglican and Episcopal Church.
Church leaders have billed the new proposals as part of a "new and helpful" drive for women bishops after their previous attempt was blocked.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Anglican Church's general synod approved the legislation. According to the BBC, the change arrived by the required two-thirds majority. A previous vote conducted in 2012 was backed by the Houses of Bishops and Clergy, but blocked by traditionalist lay members.
The vote in the House of Laity went 152 in favor, 45 against, and there were five abstentions. The change was derailed in 2012 by just six votes cast by lay members.
In the House of Bishops, 37 were in favor, two against, and there was one abstention. The House of Clergy voted 162 in favor, 25 against and there were four abstentions.
The vote rejected the Catholic and Orthodox theology of Apostolic succession, the nature of the priesthood and the of sacraments. It also removes any real hopes for institutional and structural reunion of the Catholic, Orthodox and what is now called the Anglican and Episcopal Church.
It rejects an entire theology of Church, Sacrament and Holy Orders. It dismisses centuries of Anglican tradition. The Church of England has been deeply divided over this issue. The vote arrived 20 years after women were first ordained as priests in some segments of the Anglican communion.
Women bishops could be consecrated by the end of this year. The vote followed after almost five hours of debate at the University of York. The motion had the backing of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Prime Minister David Cameron.
Archbishop Welby said in the debate that the Church of England bishops were committed to meeting their needs should the legislation be passed.
The move contained concessions for those parishes who reject the move as outside of the authority of the Church because Bishops are the successors of the Apostles and Jesus clearly established the order.The vote gives them a vehicle to ask for a male Bishops and to take disputes to an independent arbitrator. Few theologically orthodox observers expect that such a scheme will slow the continued spintering within the Church of England.
Ruth Gledhill of the Tablet, a Catholic weekly newspaper, described the result as "absolutely huge," saying it was a "positive decision." Of course, in so doing, she placed herself at odds with the her own Catholic Bishops. The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales issued a statement of regret which contained these words:
"The Catholic Church remains fully committed to its dialogue with the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. For the Catholic Church, the goal of ecumenical dialogue continues to be full visible ecclesial communion."
"Such full ecclesial communion embraces full communion in the episcopal office. The decision of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate therefore sadly places a further obstacle on the path to this unity between us."
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, writing on Twitter praised Archbishop Welby's "leadership" on securing the Yes vote, adding that it was a "big moment" for the Church of England. However, many of the Anglican and Episcopal faithful see the rejection of the Christian tradition on the Episcopacy as a sign that their Church has finally rejected any real claim to be in continuity with the Catholic Church. They embrace the Catholic and Orthodox teaching that the Church cannot change what the Lord Himself instituted.
These members of the Anglican communion are voting with their feet, leaving for breakaway groups and new configurations within the Anglican communion which have rejected this move to consecrate women as Bishops. Others are considering other options to live out their deeply held beliefs.
The Anglican Communion has been the largest Christian denomination in Britain but is in a rapid decline. It has a presence in more than 160 countries. However, it is splintering over the issues of the ordination of women to the priesthood and basic Christian orthodoxy. The relative novelty of women as bishops is already present in a number of provinces including the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
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