November 20th, 2012
04:38 PM ET

Church of England rejects female bishops by six votes

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN)– After decades of debate, the Church of England formally voted down draft legislation that would have allowed women to become bishops.

Debate on the draft legislation Tuesday spanned seven hours and saw more than 100 people voice support or opposition for the draft legislation.

At its General Synod meeting, despite the ardent support of the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby, the measure failed to secure a two-thirds majority in all of the three voting bodies of the church, the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity.

At the General Synod, elected church leaders, both laity and clergy, meet at least twice annually to decide on everything from the governing rules of the church to worship practices to budgets.

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"The ministry of women priests," Welby, the current Bishop of Durham and archbishop-designate, told the Synod, "has been powerful in all areas of the church except as part of the episcopacy."

"It is time to finish the job and vote for this measure. But also 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," he said, according to a copy of his statement posted on the church's website.

During the debate, Jane Pattison, from the Diocese of Sheffield, voiced opposition to the measure, according to the Episcopal News Service. She told the assembly that it would “promote the loss of conservative evangelical and traditional catholic ministry in the Church of England. I suggest that the church cannot afford this loss. … England cannot afford this loss if we are serious about sharing the Gospel with the nation.”

In the Church of England women have been able to serve as priests since the early 1990s.  The draft legislation would have continued that service by "enabling a woman to be consecrated to the office of the bishop if she otherwise satisfies the requirements of Canon Law as to the persons who may be consecrated as bishops."

Had the measure passed, canon law for the church would also have been amended to allow for female bishops and the General Synod would have then had to send that on formally to the Queen of England as a "Petition to the Crown" for her to grant "Royal Assent and License" to make the change to the church canon.

Queen Elizabeth is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.  The two archbishops of the church, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York, along with 24 other bishops, have seats in Parliament in the House of Lords.  The Church of England is part of the global Anglican Communion.  The Church of England says 1.7 million people take part each month in services and four in 10 people in Brittain say they belong to the church.

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Before the results of the vote were read to the assembly, the members and the gallery were reminded by Archbishop of  York John Sentamu of "the long-standing custom of receiving the results of votes on controversial matters in silence."

The legislation titled "Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure" received broad support by the House of Bishops with 44 votes for, three against and two abstentions. The House of Clergy was similarly supportive with 148 in favor and 45 against. Both votes cleared the needed two-thirds majority.  But the 132 for and 74 against vote in the House of Laity came up six votes shy needed for the measure to pass.

The Bishop of Bristol said in a statement the vote was disastrous.

"Whilst I have never believed it necessary for anyone to leave the church on the basis of the measure before us today, others clearly took another view," the Rt. Rev. Mike Hill said in a statement posted by the Diocese of Bristol.

“It will be very difficult for those of us who have supported the ordination of women bishops to process our disappointment in the days ahead. My prayers are with the many people who are hurting, particularly women in our churches and those within and outside the church who are bemused and disillusioned by such a failure," Hill said.

The House of Bishops of the Church of England will hold an emergency session to consider the consequences of the vote on Wednesday morning according to a statement by the Church of England.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Anglican • Belief • Christianity • Women

soundoff (451 Responses)
  1. mark

    Being neither religious, English or a woman, I could really care less about this 'news'.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Super Friends

      Which would explain why you are commenting on it.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • SBFW

      Well Mark seeing as how you could care less this is an important issue to you. Also, being none of those things you mentioned doesn't mean this is not an important issue. I could care less, but I don't. I couldn't care more.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      How much less could you care?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  2. jfairweather

    None of my business really, but the head of the Church of England for the last 51 years has been a female, right? So what's the problem with female bishops?

    November 20, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  3. Mary

    Hasn't this train already left the station? Aren't there female bishops now in the U.S. in the Episcopal Church?

    November 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Aceldama

      That's not the point. It is against God's will as stated in the Bible. That's the point. You can't take passages that suit you and ignore the rest. That prerogative belongs to God.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  4. James

    This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
    A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
    Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
    One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
    (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
    Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
    Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

    First Epistle of Paul to Timothy, Chapter three

    November 20, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • sam

      Also apparently he can't have boobs.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  5. 200 TON HAMMER

    Hebrew Isrealite of west Africa. YAH

    November 20, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • 200 TON HAMMER


      November 20, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  6. Super Friends

    If the church allows openly gay bishops, as long as they are celibate, why not women, as long as they don't talk or show their vagina?

    November 20, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  7. realbuckyball

    The old farts will die off soon.

    November 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Pappy with the Khaki sweatband
      Bowed goat potbellied barnyard that only he noticed
      The old fart was smart
      The old gold cloth madonna
      Dancin' t' the fiddle 'n saw
      He ran down behind the knoll
      'n slipped on his wooden fishhead
      The mouth worked 'n snapped all the bees
      Back t' the bungalow

      Momma was flatten'n lard
      With her red enamel rollin' pin
      When the fishhead broke the window
      Rubber eye erect 'n precisely detailed
      Airholes from which breath should come
      Is now closely fit
      With the chatter of the old fart inside

      An assortment of observations took place
      Momma licked 'er lips like uh cat
      Pecked the ground like uh rooster
      Pivoted like uh duck
      Her stockings down caught dust 'n doughballs
      She cracked 'er mouth glaze caught one eyelash
      Rubbed 'er hands on 'er gorgeous gingham
      Her hand grasped sticky metal intricate latchwork
      Open t' the room uh smell cold mixed with bologna
      Rubber bands crumpled wax paper bonnets
      Fat goose legs 'n special jellies
      Ignited by the warmth of the room
      The old fart smelled this thru his important breather holes
      Cleverly he dialed from within from the outside we observed
      That the nose of the wooden mask
      Where the holes had just been uh moment ago
      Was now smooth amazingly blended camouflaged in
      With the very intricate rainbow trout replica

      The old fart inside was now breathin' freely
      From his perfume bottle atomizer air bulb invention

      His excited eyes from within the dark interior glazed;
      Watered in appreciation of his thoughtful preparation

      November 20, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Sorry, but I couldn't resist posting the lyrics of one of my most favorite songs after hearing the term 'old fart'.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Akira

      Rational, do you by any chance listen to "Dr. Demento"?

      November 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian


      November 20, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  8. hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

    Christianity is hinduism, corruption of truth absolute, one hind, sunk in hinduism, denial of truth absolute GOD has no right to point finger some one else in his/her shoe.

    November 20, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Be English Upon You, Paki Tard.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  9. TMcD

    Funny , I am an Anglican in Canada and we a woman bishop.

    November 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yes, and the Episcopalians in the US have a gay bishop.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      The presiding bishop in the US is a woman. Katharine Jefferts Schori

      November 20, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  10. Is anyone surprised?

    Religion STILL can't wrap it's tiny mind around equality of the sexes.

    November 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      Another example of how Christianity is an enemy to freedom and equality. You cant defeat ignorance by trying to kill them off or burn their churches. You must educate....it is through education of the Simpleton Christians how we will defeat this MASS IGNORANCE.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Chris

      I'd say the ignorant and backward idea is the one that says men and women are completely equal and interchangeable. Are you for allowing me to get child tax credits even though I don’t have kids? If not, you are against equality too. Bigot,

      November 20, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Chris

      To the person who says Chrstians are simpletons. I challenge you to a debate on religion. I know I can win even though I am a "simpleton".

      November 20, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  11. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    I can't imagine how a religion, with ordained female priests would stop at consecrating female bishops.

    I suppose it is much the same has their present dilemma with gay priests but not gay bishops.

    The Church of England has become dangerously schizophrenic – they can't figure out if they want to be the religion of equality or go back to being Catholic. This decision hurts Anglicanism. It is blatently inconsistent.

    November 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Matt

      "Religion of equality?" Equality is not a religion. It is a value. The Bible specifically lays out roles for men and women. Therefore, a Christian who follows the teachings of the Bible (the only type) cannot believe in absolute equality for men and women. I know you hate it that somebody disagrees with your extremist views on equality, but many do. Try to avoid being so narrow minded. Your way is not the only way of thinking.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  12. Akira

    Hey, Apple.

    November 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Hi Akira! What's up? Ready for Turkey day?

      November 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Akira

      Yeah, pretty much, Apple...making my world-famous (eye roll) green-bean casserole to take...and you?

      November 20, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Groceries are bought. Plan to enjoy a quiet day with the wife and kids and football.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Akira

      We're going to the hub's sister's house...where their will be PLENTY of football, trust me. A whole family of jocks, there! Quiet? Not!

      November 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Have fun! I loves me some turkey sammiches.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  13. Cam

    Personally, with the on going child molestation charges, I would think the church would welcome women into their business. Plus, it's a good PR move and they will most likely bring in more funds. Isn't that what the church is all about? Making that money? Maybe i'm confused.

    November 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      The CofE isn't facing any disproportionate number of child molestation charges. Are you sure you have the right church (hint: Rome)?

      November 20, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Cam

      Obviously, but my point is the CofE has its roots in Christianity and Catholicism. They adhere to the same general principles which include being misogynistic fools.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  14. Love

    I really believe many of us take the bible too literally. What happened back then and what is going on now is the same, but different. It's really amazing to think they do not believe the spirit can use both men and woman to speak to the hearts of the people. He used the jawbone of an ass, why can't he use women too. I don't know about these clergy, its like the Good ole boy system all over again. SMH http://youtu.be/V4jEsdWRsNA

    November 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      "It's really amazing to think they do not believe the spirit can use both men and woman to speak to the hearts of the people."

      No, it is hard to believe they think anyone can use the spirit to do anything. On account of there isn't a spirit. lol

      November 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Scottish whiskey is the only spirit for me.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  15. Apple Bush

    Why would anyone want to be a biship in the church of England?

    November 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Money and power, two things the CofE has in abundance.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      RL, I know but still. Such a wasted existence.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      It's the fools that follow them who are wasting their existence. The attainment of money and power seem to be pretty good goals to me.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    November 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayerbot.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Cam

      Religion is not healthy for all those dead people killed in the name of god. Across every religion. Name a war Atheism has started and i'll name 10 Christianity has started... READY.... GO

      November 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • helpful hint

      All wars are the result of atheism. Go

      November 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      No war ever has been due to atheism. Ever. Ever. Ever.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Akira

      Helpful hint, absurdity of troll-ism, hind, ignorant.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Cam

      Here ya go (with death counts):

      Thirty Years War (11 mil dead), French Wars of Religion (4 million dead), The crusades (3 million), Nigerian Civil War (3 million), Lebanese Civil War (250k), 2nd Sudanese Civil War (2 million), WWII (Jewish persecution; Lots of people died).

      Funny thing is...All you out there attack Islam for being a violent religion... All these wars had Christian/Catholic roots... How's that for a brain buster?

      P.S. Lets not even mention the various genocides that have occurred due to religion.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • helpful hint

      You are killing off more people than were around those areas to be killed off in those wars. All caused and incited by atheists.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Cam

      Hard to argue with a troll

      November 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • helpful hint

      Hard to argue with historical fact.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • helpful hint

      Invoking the name of God or the church does not make a person a Christian. hitler by those who knew him best was an atheist.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Cam

      Very true. Hence why I am surprised your even pushing this ridiculous claim. How does it feel to be brainwashed? Please enlighten me.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • truth be told

      Atheists have tortured and killed more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Cam

      In the end religion has killed more people than it has saved... so... i say do away with it and violence, on a war level, will end.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Cam

      Just because you changed your name doesn't make you any less of a dumba**

      November 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Cam

      You must be one of those christians that believe the world is 200 years old, humans walked with dinosaurs, stars are little holes in the sky, and that god went a bunch of water down to us and flooded the WHOLE EARTH. GOD those sound like bablings of an IDIOT.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • helpful hint

      Actually studying history does not const. itute brainwashing. Accepting a prejudiced, preconceived, perforated version of actual events such as you claim is much closer to brain washing although I suspect the chances of your brain being clean are slim to none.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • sam

      "Accepting a prejudiced, preconceived, perforated version of actual events such as you claim is much closer to brain washing -"

      (un)helpful hint, you just described yourself quite nicely.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Akira

      "Invoking the name of God or the church does not make a person a Christian."
      Ok...by that same token, it doesn't automatically make them an atheist, either.

      This is starting to look like a Monty Python skit.
      "I paid for a full half-hour argument. You're not arguing, you're just contradicting me!"
      "I am not!"
      "You are too! See?"

      Hitler was, by differing accounts, a Christian or an atheist.
      What he was was a fvcking monster...now that we cleared THAT up, what are the names of the rest of the wars that atheism supposedly started?
      "All of them" is not the answer, hh, tbt, or whatever.
      Names. Of. Wars.
      Cam gave a good list; where's yours?

      November 20, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • sam

      First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin.
      Then, shalt thou count to three, no more, no less.
      Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three.
      Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three.
      Five is right out.
      Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • helpful hint

      All wars are rooted in disbelief and atheist ideals. All the communist struggles of the last century. The World Wars, The Colonial Wars all war dating to the dawn of time, are undertaken by the disease of atheism. The closest one could come to Christianity would be the simple Truth of God fearing people taking up arms to free those enslaved by atheistic tyrants. To then call that war Christian is a lie in the worst form. Of course it is recognized that an atheist is never bound or hindered by the facts or the Truth.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • sam

      Troll -lo-lo-lo-lol-looooool

      November 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Out in the Country

      Cam – Just curious – you seem to think war is wrong, and killing people is wrong. Help me out here – why is it wrong? In fact, let's make it easier – why is it wrong to harm people just for fun? (Just like the Romans used to do.)

      November 20, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  17. Rational Libertarian

    Usually I'd say who cares, but the CofE is the established state religion of the UK. They should not be allowed to discriminate in such a way or else they should disestablish (never gonna happen).

    November 20, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  18. Akira

    I find it amusing that one can be the Queen of England and the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, yet a woman cannot be a Bishop in that same church.
    I also find it amusing that it was the Laity that wouldn't let it pass.

    November 20, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Yes, like all things religious, it defies logic.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  19. Cam

    Man, religion gets more ironic everyday.

    So you believe in peace and love? But screw women right? Is there anything in this world more misogynistic than religion? You would be hard pressed to find it...

    November 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  20. hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

    An edict from hindu Magi's, crooked tricksters from consul of churches, dungeon of illegality. .

    November 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.