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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. Cleombrotus

    Judging by the content of the comment section,I'd say Western Civ is on its last leg.

    Oh, and good on the Church of England, (although, quite frankly, I don't understand the inconsistency of allowing them as "priests" but not bishops)

    November 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • sbp

      So basically, you're saying women have no business in positions of authority because......

      Hmmm, can't think of a reason. Is it "because that's the way it's always been?"

      November 20, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Cleombrotus

      No, sbp, there are esoteric reasons for the Biblical roles of women and men in the structure of the church. Unfortunately, you and I are probably not going to be able to discuss them because, as I say, they are esoteric and I, being a Believer and you being a non-believer, are going to bring to the discussion our differing perspectives. You'll undoubtedly bring a Post-modernist understanding of the role of women and I'll bring a Biblical perspective, so how can we communicate?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • sbp

      Well, technically I bring a modernist perspective, not post-modernist. But I do reject Bauhaus.

      You do not simply believe in God, or Jesus, you believe that every word in a written book is true because it says it is. I can understand the former, whether I agree or not, it is not unfathomable that there is a magical higher power, if you believe in magic. The latter, however, I can't understand. Since you have to accept that the Bible is a written docu-ment, and was clearly written by men (as far as physically putting pen to paper), then there is no basis to believe with certainty that it is accurate.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Cleombrotus

      Modernist or Post-modernist, you're still judging, not only me, but my beliefs by YOUR preconditioned notions derived from your belief conditioning. Without much foundation, I would add.

      No, I do NOT believe what the Bible says because it says it. I believe what the Bible says because, having tested it against observable reality it consistently holds true.

      But thanks for asking.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  2. Byron Allen

    The only source of guidance must be the Bible. The reason that the Episcopal church is suffering drastic declines in membership is that they actually stand for nothing and blow with the wind. Some gay group makes a pitch and the Episcopals decide they know better than the Bible. Standing for nothing, having no foundation is a sure prescription for decline. This is why the Catholic church maintains beliefs in accordance with the Bible and refuses to change them because some group decides to violate Biblical teaching.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Marc A. Ellis

      And who wrote that book? men...

      November 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • sbp

      WHY must the only source of guidance be from the Bible? Because the Bible says so? Doesn't that strike you as self-serving?
      If the Harry Potter book said "this book is true, every word of it, so you must follow what is said", would that be good enough for you?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Nathan

      Come, come. The Catholic way is hardly sola scriptura.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  3. Jesse

    The Apostle Paul wrote, "Women are not to teach men, because women were the first to sin". The Bible further says, "The heavens and the earth will pass away, but My word will stand forever". Now that the scriptures are clear, there is nothing else that needs to be said about women serving in the ruling class of the church.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I think even Paul himself admitted that he had a little problem.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • sbp

      And given he is referring to Eve, then he should have said "woman," not "women", and his reasoning is inapplicable to anyone other than Eve. In other words, even if you believe this silly stuff, Paul was just plain wrong – his reasoning just plain unsound. Where in the Bible does it say "Paul could not have made a mistake?""

      November 20, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Marc A. Ellis

      Paul was a man... NOT god!

      November 20, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      hie was a hindu, crook, believer of hinduism, racism and never follower of son of blessed Mary.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • sbp

      I love wacky Hindu obsessed troll! Every post is a masterpiece of gibberish.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Mary

      I am a god fearing woman but I eat pepperoni pizza.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  4. CNN All-Star Blogger

    Women must be subservient to men. It is God's will. Do not sin.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • sbp

      Oh, I get it now, you're trolling.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Marc A. Ellis

      Read the bible... it was written by man, not god!

      November 20, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Akira

      CNN All-Star Blogger, absurdity of troll-ism, hind, ignorant.

      Goon.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Philip

      I like pepperoni pizza.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  5. Eric

    Women were not meant to be equal to men, they are meant as a helper and compliment to a man. Woman was made from man, not the other way around. God demands order and everyone has a place, the head of every woman is man. The bible is VERY clear about this, very clear. It's also forbidden in the bible that a woman is not to teach a man or even pray without a covering on her head showing headship. This is a respectful relationship as man has great responsibility to care for his wife and treat her as he would treat himself. The two become one.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Marc A. Ellis

      WHO SAID?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • sbp

      What is the logic behind "woman was made from man, not the other way around, therefore woman must be subservient to man?" You could just as easily conclude, "woman was made from man, therefore she is the new and improved model, therefore man must be subservient to woman." Does it not occur to you that you are interpreting things the way you WANT them to be interpreted. Nothing is clear, except in your mind.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  6. Howie76

    Old white men ruling the world!

    November 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Jesse

      And you Sir, are already dead....and you don't even know it.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  7. mama k

    Interesting. The Episcopals in the U.S. seem to be progressing more quickly on various social issues than their "cousin" church in England.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Byron Allen

      they are in severe decline because they stand for nothing. You either believe the bible or not. If you don't , great, it is your choice, but just don't call yourself Christian. Those who stick with the Word of God will never go wrong.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Nathan

      They are actually thriving–maybe not in sheer numbers or marketing power, but they're not bad at living the gospel or at "pure religion..undefiled before God." Take a look at Episcopal Relief and Development.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  8. Bootyfunk

    religion, just go away...

    November 20, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  9. Jegos

    I find it highly ironic that women cannot be bishops, yet the "Supreme Governor of the Church of England" is a woman.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
  10. sqeptiq

    The real shame is that anyone still believes that any ruling by any religious hierarchy has any validity.

    November 20, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      You could have your head chopped off, for saying that in your grand father's time.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • ALLuh

      Religion is a joke, a fantasy, get over it, it was invented to control people, women are only tertiary. Oh, and sorry Joseph, somebody tapped that.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • LB

      Yep .It's amazing that in this century, these pompous parasites: bishops, priests, popes, etc., have any relevance.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Akira

      I know, right? AND she's Queen...

      November 20, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Sue

      LB, I agree. "parasites" is an accurate term for priests, and I think also for religions generally. They siphon resources and money from the general population to gorge themselves on.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Nathan

      Yes. Let religion and its traditions and its forms of understanding die. Let CNN commenters rule the world. They are so tolerant and compassionate.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  11. Crato

    Why are most religions all run by men

    hint: it was made up by an insecure man to control people - mainly women

    November 20, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      What is the difference between Roman and A Jew, Both of them are hindu's pagans from Egypt.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • sbp

      Ha, Ha, it's the crazy Hindu obsessed troll!

      November 20, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Jesse

      No, moron. Its because that's the way God ordained it. Since woman was the first to sin, she is not to teach me or rule over them. Read the Bible and get educated.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • sbp

      Fine, Jesse, then EVE can't be a bishop. Your mother was not the first to sin. The argument makes no sense. Hitler was a man. Therefore, all men are responsible for mass murder?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  12. CNN All-Star Blogger

    God hates Israel and her destruction is coming from God. You rebellious sinful Jews will NOT get a pass because Jesus was a Jew. The Jews killed Jesus!

    November 20, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      Son of blessed Mary was not a hindu Jew, pagan self centered but a Hebrew.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      That was Romans who did the deed.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • CNN All-Star Blogger

      Some people don't understand everyone who sinned is reasonable for the death of the Christ and if he had not died, he would not have been able to rise from the dead.

      It was by the hand of a Roman being influenced by a few of the Jewish religious leaders.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • CNN All-Star Blogger

      Sorry, responsible...not reasonable

      November 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Marc A. Ellis

      Once again, the bible was written by man.... smoking blunts I suspect!

      November 20, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Jesse

      Once again, read the Bible and get educated. God does not hate the Jews....they are his chosen people. God will bring about his redemptive plan and Jersusalem will be the where God brings his Holy Temple for all time.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  13. smartaz

    Why would anyone name a female Bishop anyway?

    November 20, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      Why should any one?

      November 20, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • siqiniq

      Why not?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Akira

      Bishop isn't a good name for a girl, is it?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • Marc A. Ellis

      Why would you be posting as smartaz... I suspect you're not!

      November 20, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
  14. us_1776

    Wasn't this the church that caused the whole emigration to North America and the founding of the Colonies for more religious freedom?

    .

    November 20, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • str8whtguy

      not exactly...

      November 20, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Jesse

      No, that would be man who did that. Man who did not follow the word of God. Self-centered man who wanted power and money. But God will also judge this on Judgement Day. All is written in the Books.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  15. Mello

    Eventually people will just say Jesus was a woman. Know your role!

    November 20, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      hindu pagan Christians can say any thing and justify it from their book of magic called Bible.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  16. CB of Concord

    How embarassing! Religion as we know it has become totally irrelevant. Nothing but a mens club of pedophiles posing as holy men. The church, and all churches, should become more inclusive and focus less on worshipping the "savior" and more on discovering our "creator" (nature, energy, whatever the driving force behind life is). and the church should be completely forthcoming about their enormous pedophile problem and have the Great Purge, so healing can begin. Until then, it's a dirty little secret that is destroying them. Shame on the Church of England, shame on the Catholic Church, shame on the Pope, .

    November 20, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      It ever was, but hinduism, absurdity of hindu's, out law's.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • John "Ratty" Arbuckle

      Spoken like a true atheist. Believe it or not, some people actually take dogma seriously. They're called "believers" and no amount of social pressure will make them recant their core beliefs. Strange as it sounds, such people don't care much about modern views, progressive trends, or humanist movements. They actually follow what their Creator decreed. Odd, isn't it? This must puzzle people like you to no end.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Jesse

      What a laugh. That's exactly what the Book of Revelation says about the last days, "Change, change...everything must change". Read the Bible and get educated.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  17. CNN All-Star Blogger

    When God sent His son to this world, He intended to set up His kingdom on earth. Jesus was supposed to lead a revolt against Rome and set up a worldwide kingdom of God. However, the Jews killed him instead of following him in this plan. Because of this, God had to replace his planned kingdom with the church, until He gained enough power to place Jesus directly on the throne. But God will, in the near future (it’s been the near future for almost two millennia), set up that kingdom, and Jesus will reign on earth for a thousand years.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      hinduism absurdity from book of hindu Mithra ism, hinduism religion of hindu pagan Romans.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • sbp

      Other than that book you like so much.... says who?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Jesse

      No, God is not mocked. He already knew this and His plan encompassed this all. Just because you don't understand the infinite wisdom and knowledge of God doesn't negate the fact that He is...

      November 20, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  18. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    I always feel like the bishops on the dark squares are female. Not sure why. They just feel that way under my hand. Don't care about the Church of England really: buggers who haven't even mastered the 4 Knights Game. What would they know about female bishops?

    Hold a minute. What would a Church of England female Bishop feel like under my hand?

    November 20, 2012 at 8:44 pm |

    • Soiled and cheap?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  19. Bootyfunk

    can't believe there are any female christians left. god and the bible hate women. read that book. women are used and abused - the only one worth anything is a virgin. lol. wake up, ladies. rebel. think for yourself. demand better.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Roberto

      Bootfunk, you have never read "that book"

      November 20, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      If western woman knew to be a woman, she will seek nothing else but to be a woman and her respect as a woman..

      November 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      studies show atheists have more biblical knowledge than the average christian. sounds like you've never read the bible - maybe cherry picked, but never actually read it. give it a try, you will be surprised by the number of passages they skip in church on sundays...

      November 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Jesse

      You lie by omission.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  20. Mother Earth

    Come unto me and suckle at my bosom. I am your Mother and none other.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Akira

      Can't I just plant some maize or something?

      November 20, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Mother Earth

      Waste not and enjoy my bounty. I will delight in your planting.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Akira

      You just like the planting of the seed part. Admit it.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
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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.