Church of England Allows Women Bishops

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The Church of England's ruling body has agreed to the controversial decision to allow the ordination women bishops, after a highly-fueled debate, in which Anglo-Catholics and conservative evangelicals threatened to leave the church after claiming that current plans don't meet their demands.

The ongoing row over women bishops threatened to cause a major split with the Church of England's governing body as the General Synod in York tried to come up with a compromise plan that would please both the liberals and the traditionalists.

The Bishop of Guildford Christopher Hill says the biggest issue being debated was what compromise could be agreed upon for those that were against the ordination of women bishops.

"The real question is how much provision should be a formal or informal provision should be made for those who cannot accept this development, amongst them some Evangelicals and some Anglo-Catholics within the Church of England," Hill said. "So the real issue is what space should be given or not for those who dissent, amongst them some Evangelicals and some Anglo-Catholics within the Church of England. "

In the end the General Synod gave minimal concessions to traditionalist Anglicans who opposed the move.

Member of the Synod and Archbishops' Council Father David Houlding is deeply concerned that this move could go against Biblical principles.

"That's a starting point and the way the church has lived out it's life over the centuries," Houlding said. "We know that within the wider church they don't accept this innovation. So I cannot see where the authority for the Church of England comes from to make this change."

Houlding is also concerned about the fallout from this decision that some will now leave the church.

"That's the real sadness," he added. "It may well inevitably be that some people will no longer find a home in the church. And we'll have to find a home elsewhere."

Christina Rees, a member of the Synod and Archbishops' Council, is a strong supporter of the ordination of women bishops.

"I believe that when God calls people to the ordained ministry. People are called on the basis of their gifts and their talents and not on the basis of whether they are men or women," Rees said.

Rees said that its vital that women be given this opportunity.

"The Church of England is the established church. Once we say yes to having women in the ordained ministry as deacon, priest and bishop, -- the three orders we have in our church -- it will be as if the established church is saying a full welcome to women and saying that it values women as well as it values men," she explained.

Hill explained the process to CBN News that will decide the final outcome of how the ordination of women bishops will eventually become a reality.

"It will be sent down to the dioceses and so for two years people in dioceses including mine in Guildford will be looking at the legislation,"Hill said. "My synod will have a chance to say what it feels about these issues and then if two thirds of the diocese synods says yes to legislation then it will come back to the general synod in two years time."

So despite mixed views on the outcome of the General Synod's decision on the future of women bishops, until the synod's next assembly, this issue is likely to continue to cause divisions within the church for many months to come.

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Peter Wooding

Peter Wooding

CBN News United Kingdom Correspondent

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