Vote in favour of women bishops carried
After debate in the Church of England’s elected governing body, the General Synod, at which he was present, The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, has expressed his pleasure at the ‘yes’ vote as well as affirming the place of those who hold a different view within the family of the church.
He said: “Most of you will share my delight at the decision to ordain women to the episcopate which affirms the contribution of ordained women in our diocese.
“The long debate was conducted with a great deal of attentiveness and graciousness.
“Some have serious doubts as to whether this is a right and proper development. Much of our debate was how we can ensure that those who hold the traditional view can be assured that they are still a valuable and valued part of our diocesan family.”
“When the motion was overwhelmingly passed, it was done so in the light of our agreement that we would all respect one another and the House of Bishops five guiding principles.”
The Bishop of Hertford and the Bishop of Bedford, who are not members of Synod and therefore not in the debate have endorsed and welcomed Bishop Alan’s comments.
1. Now that legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience;
2. Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter;
3. Since it continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops, the Church of England acknowledges that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God;
4. Since those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures; and
5. Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England.
Read the Church of England’s announcement here, with quotes from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.