LONDON — In an unexpected move, the Church of England narrowly voted against allowing women to be ordained as bishops 18 years after its approval of ordaining of women to the priesthood.
Archbishop-designate Justin Welby of Canterbury has voiced support for the ordination of women bishops and voted in favor of the measure during the church's General Synod Nov. 20.
He told the gathering that “the Church of England needs to show how to develop the mission of the church in a way that demonstrates that we can manage diversity of view without division; diversity in amity, not diversity in enmity.”
Although ordination of female priests was approved at the 1992 synod, the measure regarding women bishops, which needed a two-thirds majority with the bishops, clergy and laity, lost by six votes with the laity.
The issue cannot be brought up for reconsideration until the next synod, which will take place 10 years from now.
Forward in Faith, an Anglican group that strives to maintain a male-only clergy, said in a Nov. 19 statement that while the vote may “bring disappointment and pain to many,” the proposed legislation “lacked consensus across the whole of the Church of England.”
Forty-four bishops, 148 members of the clergy and 132 members of the laity voted in favor of the measure, while three bishops, 45 clergy and 74 laity voted against ordaining women as bishops.
Forward in Faith called for a “period of prayer and reflection on the part of the whole church” following the events of the synod.
Over 100 speeches were made on the topic during the two-day meeting. The majority of speakers were in favor of women bishops, The Guardian reported.
Those against the measure argued that female ordination could not be supported by Scripture, while those in favor said such a vote would provide more equality for women in the church.