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. stevephoenix

    You can live together but have to remain celibate? That's progress. That's like telling a kid "You can have all the candy you want, but you can't eat any."

    January 5, 2013 at 1:00 am |
  2. Roelof

    Strange, because Queen Elizabeth is the head, but they don't allow female bishops.

    November 24, 2012 at 6:03 am |
    • Except

      Although the irony isn't lost on me, since Henry VIII founded the Church of England, every reigning Monarch has been the head of that church.

      November 27, 2012 at 3:47 am |
  3. Al Christian

    This blog is an amazing diatribe of the lowest order. I am amazed by all the atheistic intelligentsia who seem to march in step. (Someone mentioned the "hive mentality.") Why are all you agnostics and atheists here on "religion.blogs.cnn.com" ? Don't you have something better to do with your time than destroy? Are you here for amusement? To convince the unconvinced? To make yourself look foolish? Why are you all so intolerant and against people practicing their own systems of belief. Many of the anti-religion comments here are nothing but "intellectual" bullying. There is a large subset of messages here that show zero respect for other opinions. I don't expect any of you bullies to change but I just had to get this off my chest.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Except

      While I'm glad you feel better, answer me this: if the atheists weren't here, what would you be doing instead? Arguing with the other faithful as to the meaning of the scriptures? Trying to convert believers of another religion to yours?
      You can do that now, but somehow, I never see that here.

      November 27, 2012 at 3:52 am |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "John 3:16" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is the degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian

      November 26, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.

      November 26, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  5. Tom

    Gosh, CNN...any quotes from leaders of the other side of the argument? #biasedmedia

    November 21, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  6. Reality

    Said religion was founded by a killer-king. Why in the 21st century do people still belong? The Three B Syndrome, i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed and in this case Episcopalian stupidity.

    November 21, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Chris

      The church of England and the Catholic Church have many policies that fly in the face of God and the scriptures that they pretend to espouse. That's the problem with some churches. They become infected with mans belief and ignore the very Bible they pretend to preach from. Religion is man-made, faith comes from God.

      November 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      (references used are available upon request)

      November 21, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Fernando

      You are very wrong on that, religion was not founded by a king as you think...read more... religion and churches are 2 things completely apart. One use the other but are not the same. faith is an inside feeling that doesnt need a church. if you dont have it, it doesnt matter it is your life, is the same thing as the science...somes believe in pills and vaccines, even if the pills are not tested apropiately like the azt that killed more men than it saved on the 80's and 90's, because the scientist were using a very high dosis of it, and it is a quimiotherapy that destroyed the men from inside. so no matter if you believe in science or religion, is the people whom have the right to choose what they believe, in my case by example i believe on the word of jesus, but doesnt believe in the old testament because the old testaments, i think jesus came to say hey people God loves you all the same without preference...not just the jews...and thats why they killed him. but on the subject about the women i think that if a church has its laws and it say that there will be no women as bishops ...then move on to other church. is like the gay people...churches doesnt allow gay marriage...why on earth some gay wants to be married by the church...thats stupid...

      November 22, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Except

      @Fernando, the Church of England (Anglican), the church we are talking about here, was founded by King Henry VIII to take the place of the Ronam Catholic Church, who he broke off with after the Pope would not sanction his divorce from Catharine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn.
      Who, you remember, got her head severed from her shoulders so he could marry Jane Seymore, making him...wait for it...the killer king.

      November 27, 2012 at 3:42 am |
  7. John Doe

    Food for thought. Is this whole thing centered around "religion" or "power". If someone interprets their "religion" in a way that shouldn't have women on board at the highest levels, what is their assertion and "proof" to this? I'm not in favor of or a nay in this matter, however, what is the, or rather, where does the authority to deny or allow a certain "person" to have "standing" in the "corporation"? Very curious indeed.

    November 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      John, your question seems to indicate an almost complete lack of knowledge regarding various Scriptures that describe "Man as the head", "Women shall not teach" etc. Google a few key phrase like that and you can find the Scriptures that the church relies on. What's interesting to me is that Jungian psychology tells us that a driving force in males is the need to be respected while the reciprocal among females is the need to be appreciated. These ego/id forces seem to reflect accurately what the Scripture tries to teach us. The reaction from the radical feminists is to deconstruct these dynamics, granting everyone "equality". All they ultimately achieve however is the loss of respect for men and the loss of appreciation for women.

      November 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Sue

      Religion of any kind should get no respect. Religion is merely a set of ideas – bad ideas generally. Putting more time into Christian scripture is also a waste of time; it has already been shown to get medical science badly wrong, among many other problems with it, and there are far better bases for morality. Time to give Christianity the big shove into history.

      November 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Chris

      First there is 1 Corinthians 14:34 and also Timothy 2:12
      Women have a seperate role in life and being church leaders is not allowed by scripture.

      November 21, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • John Doe

      If thinking defines the nature of being human and the more thoughtless we are, the less human we are, and if we assume this thought provoking tid-bit, yet, if we also assume that the most thought-provoking in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking, has this particular religion overstepped the "written word" of teachings? Or, have they not thought it all out yet (which is assumed is impossible)? Has the "goal" of their thinking eluded them once again and is still beyond reach? What IS the ultimate goal of their thinking?

      November 21, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Bill, could you clarify the difference between the masculine "respect" and the feminine "appreciation?" Thanks.

      November 21, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • John Doe

      I suppose because this was just a fancy of the mind, and no longer a thought-provoking topic... and drudge relegated it to his history bin, that people will no longer think about this... typical.

      I would assume that this isn't the most thought-provoking in our thought-provoking time. 😉

      November 22, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • NII

      If I am to go toe-to-toe with any of you concerning the leadership of women in church you will not like me. It is highly unlikely that God will use female religious leaders in the Old Testament and then issue a ban on female leadership in the New Testament. We all know of Prophetesses like Miriam, Deborah and others in the Old Testament with some being judges. When Paul sought to break a pagan tradition in Asia Minor he was not talking about the rest of the Church that is why he specifically started by saying it is his opinion. Why? there were other Apostles and more senior ones at that who did not care about females leading in Church. Though traditionally male scholarship has made males dominant in Church leadership Anna the prophetess is proof that even then a woman could still be a church leader. There are also the seven virgins who prophesied to Paul himself. Why did he, a man, listen to these women minister the word of God to him? Paul wrote that in Christ there is neither male nor female did he not? One Bible verse is not enough to consign intelligent, religious and spiritual women to Sunday School and Choir leadership. Look at the Rev Joyce Meyer for instance or other such anointed women of God. It is sad that a reading of thee Bible out of context is destroying God's intent. And by the way the excuse that a woman could not be a Levitical Priest is useless since a Prophet or Prophetess ranks higher than the High Priest.

      November 22, 2012 at 6:38 am |
  8. Jenna Jameson

    Bill Deacon, I think we all got tired of the reformation positions. B-o-r-i-n-g. Give the KS a read.

    November 21, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You're thinking missionary Jenna. Understandable that you are confused.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Jesus

      I prefer doggy, or reverse cowgirl style.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Sue

      I doubt that Bill is getting any.

      November 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  9. Jenna Jameson

    Bill Deacon, I think we all got tired of those reformation positions. B-o-r-i-n-g. Give the KS a read.

    November 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  10. eddie too

    the extreme emotions exhibited by atheists and other non-christians who post here is both curious and telling.

    November 21, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Bill Deacon


      November 21, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Jenna Jameson

      Bill Deacon, I think we all got tired of those reformation positions. B-o-r-i-n-g. Do give the KS a read.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • midwest rail

      eddie – examples please ? Or are you just making unfounded assertions ? Also, I guarantee that for every example you might find, I can mind just as many from the "loving" Christians who post here.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Jesus

      Does it tell you that we think you're an idiot?

      November 21, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • TeaPatriot


      look below at atheist accusing me of serving in "dumpster regiment" when I didnt ever claim service

      look at Sue below calling all religious people names.

      November 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  11. Bill Deacon


    November 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  12. TeaPatriot

    typical atheist. turning up nose at the armed forces. All segments of the armed forces and reserves have to be respected.

    November 21, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Which God?

      hey teapot, the wannabe patriot. Sticks in your redneck craw that there were lots of athiests in the services,doesn't it? You never had the ba.lls to serve. Your regiment was the 9989th Dempsey Dumpster brigade. Tell me, are you one of those guys who like to run around in camo, thinking you look tough and cool?

      November 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • TeaPatriot


      at what point did I claim that I served in the armed forces? You imputed it. I am a patriot who educates others on the cons-ti-tution among other things. The abuse you heap isnt working.

      neat sidestepping on turning up nose at armed forces. I would never use 9899th dumpster regiment. That means you think some parts of the armed forces are worthless.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Jesus

      You imputed it


      November 21, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • TeaPatriot

      more name calling. another atheist?

      November 21, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Sue

      TeaPatriot: more bigotry and invalid assumptions on your part – a Christian?

      November 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • TeaPatriot

      where in above post was bigotry or invalid assumption? I just saw one dude smear the armed forces calling them a dumpster regiment. Look inside youself, you will find the bigotry. against religious people.

      November 23, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  13. Who invited me?





    November 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  14. OpenYourEyes

    See the lyrics of this song – Jethro Tull – My God – http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/45566/

    November 21, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • TeaPatriot

      That song sounds satanic. Is it played in black mass

      November 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  15. Sue

    In turn, thinking people everywhere should reject the church of England. And all other clubs of supersti-tions.

    November 21, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Cleombrotus

      Yes, Sue. We must ALL think alike now. No more room for individualism and moral autonomy.

      The hive mentality advances day by day.

      November 21, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • rlroll2

      If you don't like the laws of the Church, just change the rules. The current head of the Church of England is a woman, so its not about that. It's simply moral relativists demanding that religion accomadates their daily whims. You must be an Episcopalian.

      November 21, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • TeaPatriot


      do you follow the church of england? I sure dont. If you dont, then bu-tt out. Its their business whom they want as bishop. Its called freedom of religion.

      November 21, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Huebert

      Tea Bager

      You are correct, the Church of England can conduct their affairs in any way they see fit, and I, or any one else, can criticize them in any way I see fit. It's called freedom of speech.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • TeaPatriot

      Hubert@ I dont see you criticizing muslims for their madrasa, preachers gone mad in UK advocating ji-had

      and in general violent ji-had bo-mbing all over the world. Killing cartoonists who excercised "freedom of speech". Rioting against a movie made in the spirit of "freedom of speech"

      Its reserved for catholic and church of england I see.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Which God?

      @ teapot You are no patriot. You most lkely a wannabe. I'll bet the closest you came to serving is watching a DVD of the movie Pearl Harbor. If you served at all, it was probably with the 9989th Dempsey Dumpster regiment.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • TeaPatriot

      comment above was for you!

      November 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Which God?

      Ah teapot. You ARE a wnnabe. So sad. Never had the ba.lls, did you? You probably hate the fact there there were a lot of atheists in the military, even way back when. It sticks in your redneck craw, doesn't it? Bet you are one of those guys who lies to run around in camo, trying to look tough and cool, but couldn't put in the time. Afraid you might really have to go to war for real. Loser. Just a loser. Begone clown, you don't amuse anyone.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • TeaPatriot

      also, YOU are the typical atheist making fun of the army. the people serving in the army I didnt refer to

      November 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • End Religion

      Cleo, please see page 4 of this article's comments where I proved you to be a lying fruitcake rambling about hives and things which you do not understand. Remember, I expect in the future only posts AGAINST religion as you proved yourself to be against their hive mentality.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Cleombrotus

      End Religion, as proof of your assertion you offer that most people "believe in God"? And that's supposed to refute what I said? You're kidding, right?

      November 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Sue

      TeaPatriot, get your stupid head out of your fat saggy ass. Religion practised by anyone affects us all. Usually negatively.

      November 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Pete

      @sue,what do you expect from a country that a Queen still runs and much of their guidelines are as ancient as she is,enough said..Take it where it comes,that's all!!Similar to your American priests stating contraceptives are illegal by church rules but have you ever seen a male priest pregnant,I sure haven't!!

      November 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • TeaPatriot


      So we dont have freedom of religion?

      Good one. you are primo example of how atheist think.

      November 23, 2012 at 8:52 am |
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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.