CofE: Positive reactions to women bishops vote

PALegislation on women bishops was defeated in the General Synod last November after failing to reach a two-thirds majority in the House of Laity

The news that the Church of England so overwhelmingly supported the motion from the Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend James Langstaff, to ordain women bishops, has received widely favourable reactions from across the Anglican and the broader Christian community.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, said the vote demonstrated "the widespread desire of the Church of England to move ahead with ordaining women as bishops, and at the same time enabling those who disagree to flourish".

He was cautious to avoid celebrating too early, taking Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu's advice to "not open the champagne bottles".

In describing the ongoing situation, Archbishop Welby said: "There is some way to go, but we can be cautiously hopeful of good progress."

In discussing the general situation with those who did not agree, the Archbishop said: "The tone of the debate was strikingly warm and friendly. The more we learn to work together the more effective the church will be in meeting the huge challenges of spiritual renewal, and above all service to our communities, so as to both proclaim and demonstrate the reality of the love of Christ."

There was broad expected support from groups like the pro-women bishops WATCH. Vice chair Charles Read announced: "This is very good news for the full inclusion of women alongside men at all levels in our Church. We eagerly look forward to the consecration of several women as bishops as soon the legislation has completed its passage."

Vice chair Anne Stevens commented the distance travelled since November 2012.
"What a difference a year makes," she said.

"For the last 12 months people on all sides of the debate have worked closely together on the new provisions, and we saw the fruits of that in today's very positive and good-humoured debate. I hope that that spirit of co-operation will continue to grow as the legislation goes through the approval process."

Groups that had specific concerns about the potential for loss of theological autonomy have also been highly praising of the legislation.

Church Society, a conservative evangelical group within the Church of England with its headquarters in Watford, released a statement saying: "We remain convinced that the best way forward on the issue of women bishops is one where those who are not persuaded from scripture of the necessity of the proposed changes continue to be able to flourish in the Church.

"We are therefore delighted that the new legislative proposals before General Synod this week do acknowledge that this view is 'within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion' and that for those who hold to the classic and historic view, 'the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures'."

The Catholic Group in Synod has also come out in support of the motion that passed, welcoming "the new atmosphere of trust and reconciliation, together with the clear recognition that our theological convictions will continue to be within the spectrum of Anglican teaching, and the commitment to provide appropriate bishops and priests for our parishes".

"We urge all involved to take steps to build up further the atmosphere of trust, which is why many of us have voted for the new legislative process to continue," the group said.