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. swesleymcgranor

    The Priesthood of All Believers is alive and well!


    A Link For Celebration: http://swesleymcgranor.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/66/

    November 20, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  2. Thy Kingdom come Lord!

    Femenists are enemies of GOD, they have no respect for men or the divine order!

    November 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  3. Aceldama

    If one wants to be a nice, kind person that is fine but don’t try to say you are a Christian unless you are prepared to follow the teachings as set out in the Bible. That is, ALL the teachings and ALL the verses. Some passages maybe to your liking but others may not be. It is impertinent for us as humans to determine that some verses apply to us and others do not. Anyone who does this is tantamount to putting him/herself above God.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Arden8

      Aaaand this means?

      November 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Daenerys

      I never said I was christian. I hate organized religion because organized religion is full of hypocrisy, archaic beliefs and stupidity. I simply believe in god.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • bigboxes

      It means he's a lemming. He's certain of the truth. To him there is no interpretations of scripture. He's sure of its meaning. Just like the Taliban he seeks to rule your life, public and private. Even the jews don't literally interpret the old testament, but not this guy. By jove if the good book say it then that's what it means (whatever that means). If he had his way you'd go to school only to be able to read the bible. To him, that's all you need to know. The bible is infallible no matter how one passage contradicts the other.

      But that's ok. Normal Christians do interpret the bible. They do understand context and place in time. They do understand what was said to an ancient culture to spread the faith is not necessarily applicable to modern times. They do understand that God has given us the ability to reason. They also understand that God still talks to us to this day. He is a living God, not just in this guy's bible. I'm sure that your version of the bible is not good for this guy. He's believes that only a certain version is the true interpretation of ancient Greek texts. All others are perversions. That's ok. Everything outside of his mindset is the working of Satan. Just ask him.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  4. Nathan

    Amen. Halellujah!

    November 20, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  5. Mohammad A Dar

    After decades of debate, the Church of England formally voted down draft legislation that would have allowed women to become bishops.........oh but Church of England had nerve to appoint a life long business executive to the archbishop position, ridiculous.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  6. So...why?

    This story doesn't actually help the reader understand why the church made their decision. I know why those proposed the motion did but not why the church opposed it. “promote the loss of conservative evangelical and traditional catholic ministry" doesn't say anything about WHY they shut down the motion. The reader is left to make their own uninformed conclusion.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • fritz

      Uninformed conclusions? We all know why they voted 'no' to the babe bishops. They don't want the chicks hornin' in on their religious gig. Plain and simple. Any jackazz biblical excuse they will give counter to that is just smokescreen. It's all about male ego. They ain't gonna give up their men's club. So says the Grand Poobah!

      November 20, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  7. Ken

    Quite simply, all of Jesus' Apostles were men. Therefore, all leadership roles in Christian churches should be filled by men. Of course, they were also all Jewish. So,............

    November 20, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Jerry

      Except for Mary Magdalene, anyhow, and she really doesn't count since he was bangin' her.....

      November 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • David Christian Newton

      And so....at times it is necessary to be all Jews. We wonder why we must change the Church to fit the template of a popular culture.
      And The Apostles were all men, but it short order there were millions of apostles.
      There are many sects and denominations. If these women feel the need to be bishopesses, they could easily go down the hall to the Methodist Church and serve on the Planned Parenthood Board and demand that every parishioner become a left handed reverse transgendered lesbian watermelon. The entire point of these measures is to kill the Episcopal Church as the eloquent advisor to Christian nations. To be that constant lighthouse in any and every storm. But it has become a Unitarian Church with a bit of Catholic nostalgia where people can feel good about Mary being a lesbian and Jesus hanging around with the boys and where we can sing Kumbaya without even knowing what the song means or where it comes from because AlGore says we are all going to drown because the ice caps are melting and it will happen before 1996.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  8. Daenerys

    Aceldama, It will not let me reply to your post directly. The bible is written by man. Man is fallible whether divinely inspired or not. Its kinda like the game telephone.

    Not to mention you kinda sound like you don't like women, may I suggest a desert island.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Aceldama

      Women have a place and the Bible tells us clearly what that is. Accept that men and women are complementary and have different roles. That’s how God created them.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Mrs.Pepperpot

      You would NOT be speaking such nonsense if the roles of women and men were reversed in the bible...what a patently ridiculous notion that anything that was used to whip sheepherders 2000 years ago might have any relevance in today's world. You want to be subjugated for the rest of your life? Go right ahead. I don't choose to be, and I bet i'm a better person than you are by just questioning the subservient role women are reduced to. Not to mention that there are writings that say good old Paul was, in fact, a closeted gay man who struggled with that all of his life...but THAT didn't make it into the accepted form of the bible!

      November 20, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  9. blaqb0x

    If they allow women to become bishops then they'll demand to become cardinals. If they become cardinals then they'll demand to become(GASP), popes!

    November 20, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Audrey Nickel

      You've got us confused with Roman Catholicism. There are no cardinals or popes in the Anglican Communion.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • fritz

      OMFG! A woman pope??? What would she wear? How would we address her? .."Greetings. your divine holy Poperess! You're looking positively smashing today!" ...Seriously though. All the Anglican church proved is that they, like all the abrahamic religions, are nothing more than glorified men's clubs, run by men for men for their purposes. If the babes want to don the robes and lord over the low priestly class guys, I say let'em! But I don't think the higher up godly guys will let'em. Too ego busting I guess to have a woman lord over them. Bummer.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Michael

      The Catholic Church produced their first woman pope centuries ago. Pope Joan. This is not a joke.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  10. blaqb0x

    Well women are viewed as dumb and untrustworthy throughout the Bible. Blame the writers.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  11. Daenerys

    Religion and the Church are rife with hypocrisy. God calls people from all walks of life, male and female. For you not to allow these women to follow their calling shows you do not value God.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Aceldama

      Rubbish. Read the Bible for yourself if you want to know God's views on the subject.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Mrs.Pepperpot

      And which version is the one supposedly used for today? OT or NT? Conflicted much? What applies? The "old" God or the new, improved NT version? Rubbish indeed!

      November 20, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  12. David from Nor Cal

    And the church remains in the dark ages. Hopefully the number of people who see the pile of rubbish known as religion for what it really is will continue to increase.

    The church can go and sit in the corner with their juice boxes and coloring books. The adults are talking now.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  13. Aceldama

    If women want to be bishops then, sorry, that is not permitted in a Christian church. They should consider being a Hindu or something else. There are many passages in the Bible such as Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. (Timothy 2:11-12). If women don’t like this they should find a different religion like Druidism where this is allowed.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Akira

      Uh, the CoE *is* a Christian Church...how did you miss that?

      November 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      I am sure you grew up in a house where your mother was nothing more than a cook + cleaning lady of the house, am I wrong?

      November 20, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  14. Richard

    There is still some sanity left in the world....

    November 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  15. Hutterite

    See that face in the small mirror in front of you? That's the future, looking in the rearview. And it's getting further away, fast.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  16. Lisa

    Women should immediately exit this church. Show some courage!

    November 20, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Ken Puck

      Not a word about the ordination of sheep and goats. And they call themselves Christians?

      November 20, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  17. Skillet Chitlins

    Most likely the reason female bishops sounds so attractive is because there are no men left in the church or anywhere else for that matter.
    Whether you like it or not we are all doomed.
    Equality? garbage! God is not an egalitarian.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  18. Fugelman

    The Bible tells what God thinks of women talking in church. We can't cherrypick the Bible and only accept what suits us. Read 1 Corinthians 14: 34-35 for yourself. Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Lisa

      Hilarious. That's when I'd put the book down knowing it was just not right. Many of us have a strong internal moral compass.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • dan

      The Bible is a reflection of the times it was written.There are many passages that are simply wrong.It takes intelligence and critical thought to read the Bible.Not a "yes" man.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • whynot

      Shouldnt you be out on a ledge somewhere? Insane.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • scottwoodbeck

      fubgelman I wonder If you have ever really studied the bible. You need to understand that The bible has been translated by men that had no interest in letting a woman even leave her household to work. If you go back to the Greek and Hebrew in the Strongs Concordance and match it with the lifestyle that Paul was living (Actually In-powering women rather than making them meek and unworthy) you will truly find out what it really says. Let me quote something from Ephesians ch 5 v23

      For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

      Can you not see If we as men are to be the head of our household we must be our wive and children's servant. and if you go one step farther into the Greek the word used for head is kephale which is translated into The Source Like the Head of a river. Word for Thought
      May you be Blessed.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  19. Agapatos

    We've come a long way to now "ALLOWING" someone to become a bishop, just for a show of equality. Back from the days, it was a TERRFIYING thing to become a bishop (because of the responsibility before God), and many saints REFUSED. "Fools rush in, where wisemen fear to tread."

    November 20, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Lisa

      Just JUST JUST for a show of equality? Mind closed a little, eh?

      Speaking of fools...

      November 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  20. hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

    goons, Jambo' ree Mosque of Ingland, yesterday rejected my Taliban mother s for grand Mullahship by six votes too, what a coinsidance again? filthy gangsters of Thin Allah, crooks

    November 20, 2012 at 7:37 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.