Archbishop Welby’s Unity Plea to Pope Francis Over Women Bishops

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to Pope Francis in a plea to prevent the ordination of women bishops from derailing plans for the eventual reunification between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches…

June 2013: Pope Francis meets Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at the Vatican

Archbishop of Canterbury insists differences over women bishops should not halt moves to Anglican-Roman Catholic unity saying: ‘We need each other’ …

The Telegraph has the rest.


Russian Orthodox Church Statement on Church of England Decision to Allow Women to Serve as Bishops

The Orthodox Church News:

The Russian Orthodox Church has been alarmed and disappointed to learn about the decision of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate, since the centuries-old relationships between our two Churches had shown possibilities for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in Anglicanism. As far back as the 19th century, the Anglicans, members of the Eastern Church Association, sought “mutual recognition” of orders between the Orthodox and the Anglican Churches and believed that “both Churches preserved the apostolic continuity and true faith in the Saviour and should accept each other in the full communion of prayers and sacraments.”

The decision to ordain women, which the Church of England took in 1992, damaged the relationships between our Churches, and the introduction of female bishops has eliminated even a theoretical possibility for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in the Anglican hierarchy.

Such practice contradicts the centuries-old church tradition going back to the early Christian community. In the Christian tradition, bishops have always been regarded as direct spiritual successors of the apostles, from whom they received special grace to guide the people of God and special responsibility to protect the purity of faith, to be symbols and guarantors of the unity of the Church. The consecration of women bishops runs counter to the mode of life of the Saviour Himself and the holy apostles, as well as to the practice of the Early Church.

In our opinion, it was not a theological necessity or issues of church practice that determined the decision of the General Synod of the Church of England, but an effort to comply with the secular idea of gender equality in all spheres of life and the increasing role of women in the British society. The secularization of Christianity will alienate many faithful who, living in the modern unstable world, try to find spiritual support in the unshakable gospel’s and apostolic traditions established by Eternal and Immutable God.

The Russian Orthodox Church regrets to state that the decision allowing the elevation of women to episcopal dignity impedes considerably the dialogue between the Orthodox and the Anglicans, which has developed for many decades, and contributes for further deepening of divisions in the Christian world as a whole.


Women Bishops Approved By Church Of England

Told you so.


The General Synod of the Church of England voted today that women can be consecrated as bishops, 18 months years after a similar measure was controversially voted down.

The vote required passage by a two-thirds majority in the synod’s three houses of bishops, clergy and laity. The House of Bishops approved of women bishops 37 to 2 with one abstention, the House of Clergy approved 162 to 25 with four abstentions, and the House of Laity approved 152 to 45 with five abstentions.

In an interview with BBC prior to the vote, Archbishop of Canterbury Rev. Justin Welby, who supported consecrating women bishops, said there’s a “good chance of the first woman bishop being announced very early in 2015, possibly been chosen before that.”

In 2012, a vote to approve allowing women bishops passed among bishops and clergy but failed by six votes among lay members.

Like the vote that year, more traditional Anglicans, including evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics, argued in front of the synod that having women as bishops would go against the teachings of Jesus. If Jesus intended women to be among the top church leaders, he would have had a woman among the Twelve Apostles, some of the traditionalists said. But a higher number of more conservative Anglicans were swayed to vote for women bishops this year, ending two decades of controversy over the role of women in leadership since the church started allowing women priests in 1994.

“Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing. The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds,” Welby said in a statement.

The high-ranking Archbishop of York, where the synod had met, called the outcome a “moment of joy.”

“To those who ask ‘what took you so long?” my answer is that every decision has a cost and there will be those within our body who will be hurting as a result of this decision,” Rev. John Sentamu of York said in a statement. “Our answer to the hurting should not be ‘get over it’ but rather ‘we will not let go until you have blessed us.'”

The Church of England, which is the considered the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion, counts among it 80 million members in more than 160 countries. The church traces its history to Henry VIII, under whom the church split from Roman Catholics. All Anglicans share the same basic tenets of faith but views on gender, sexuality, worship style and other issues vary widely by region.

For example, the communion includes the two-million member Episcopal Church in the United States, one of the most liberal denominations in the country and as well as in the Anglican communion. Its current top leader, Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, is a woman. Episcopalians also ordain gay priests and voted in 2012 to bless same-sex marriages and ordain transgender priests. In 2003, the church voted to elect its first gay bishop.

Anglican Communion members in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand also consecrate women bishops.

And South Africa…

The news is on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Official Site here.


ELCA Elects First Female Presiding Bishop(ess)

Religion News Service:

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on Wednesday (Aug. 14) elected the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton as the denomination’s first female presiding bishop. Eaton received 600 votes against incumbent Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, who received 287.

Eaton, the current ELCA bishop of the Cleveland-based Northeast Ohio Synod, is married to the Rev. Conrad Selnick, an Episcopal priest. Like Hanson, she is considered a moderate who supported the denomination’s decision to allow partnered gay clergy while allowing room for churches to disagree, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

A native of Cleveland, she received a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School.

“We are a church that is overwhelmingly European in a culture that is increasingly pluralistic,” Eaton told the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh shortly after the election.

“We need to welcome the gifts of those who come from different places, that is a conversation we need to have as a church.”

The ELCA, which has lost members nearly every year since its founding in 1987, experienced a dramatic drop when it lost nearly half a million members in 2010 and 2011.

Hanson is credited with leading the nation’s largest Lutheran body — with more than 4 million members in 9,638 congregations — with a steady hand during turbulent times as the ELCA wrestled with the gay policy that Hanson favored but was hesitant to push on the larger church.

Even so, under his watch the Chicago-based ELCA saw a small but significant schism as conservatives upset with the decision to allow gay clergy defected to a new rival denomination, the North American Lutheran Church.

The election was a surprise to many, as Hanson was expected to win an unprecedented third term after 12 years in office. Hanson was the third presiding bishop in the denomination’s history; three of four finalists for the position were women…


Church of England Unveils Plan for Women Bishops in 2015

Yahoo news:

The Church of England published a plan on Friday to approve the ordination of women bishops by 2015, a widely supported reform it just missed passing last November after two decades of divisive debate.

It said the new plan, outlined in a document signed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York John Sentamu, would be presented to the General Synod, the Church legislature, in July to begin the approval process.

The proposal would make allowances for traditionalists who oppose women clergy, a minority that blocked the reform at the last Synod meeting, but each diocese will have to have a bishop willing to ordain women to the priesthood, it said.

The issue pits reformers, keen to project a more modern and egalitarian image of the church as it struggles with falling congregations in many increasingly secular countries, against a minority of conservatives who see the change as contradicting the Bible.

“We are perhaps at a moment when the only way forward is one which makes it difficult for anyone to claim outright victory,” said Bishop Nigel Stock, chairman of the working group drawing up new proposals after the reform’s defeat last November.

“The Church of England should retain its defining characteristic of being a broad Church, capable of accommodating a wide range of theological conviction,” he said in a statement.

The mother church to the world’s 80 million Anglicans was thrown into turmoil when the reform won 73 percent support but failed because it fell four votes short in the House of Laity.

Legislation needs a two-thirds majority in the Synod’s houses of bishops, clergy and laity to pass. Because of the legislative process, Synod members had said it would take five years before the reform could come up for another vote…

Women already serve as Anglican bishops in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, but Anglican churches in many developing countries oppose any female clergy and are working together to shield themselves against such reforms.

Several Protestant denominations allow women clergy, including bishops, but the largest Christian churches – the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox – do not. The Church of England decided to allow celibate gay bishops in January, earning stinging criticism from traditionalist African Anglican leaders.

The new plan would allow conservative bishops to continue in office while opposing women’s ordination, but said “there should no longer be any dioceses where none of the serving bishops ordains women as priests.”

It also suggested that future appointments might be influenced by a bishop’s views on women clergy, saying that “many dioceses will want to insist that their diocesan bishop should be someone who ordains women”.

Well there you have it…


Archbishop of Canterbury Will Eventually Be a Woman

So convinced is the incumbent:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, says he is convinced his role will eventually be held by a woman.

He said it would “certainly” happen one day despite the Church of England General Synod’s rejection of plans to admit women to the episcopate in November last year.

He voiced confidence that a new measure to be fast-tracked onto the agenda when the Synod meets in July would eventually succeed.

He was speaking as he prepared to be enthroned as Archbishop in a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral, confirming him as leader of the Church of England and the nominal head of the 77 million-strong worldwide Anglican Church.

In a sign of the changing face of the Church in the 20 years since the first female priests were ordained, he will be enthroned by a woman – The Venerable Sheila Watson, Archdeacon of Canterbury.

Speaking to Channel 5 News, the Archbishop said a woman would undoubtedly sit on the throne of St Augustine one day.

Asked when this might be, he said: “When the right person turns up – but yes I think there certainly will.”

He added: “We’re going to bring in new proposals this summer and then they work through the synodical system and we’ll see how long that takes.”

But he insisted he wanted to make provision for those with theological objections to women bishops, rather than risk an exodus of traditionalists from the Church.

He said: “The point is we’re not a political party so we don’t simply vote in favour and say to the people who disagree in good conscience: ‘Well we don’t want anything to do with you’.

“The issue is about all of those who are in the Church of England are valued and allowed to exert their faith and their ministry.”

His Enthronement is dealt with by Archbishop Cranmer.

Lambeth Palace notes (and the Anglican Communion does not):

The date of the ceremony resonates in several ways: March 21st is the day when the church remembers the martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1556. It is also the feast day of St. Benedict of Monte Cassino, a significant figure for both Canterbury Cathedral and Archbishop Justin himself, who is an oblate of the Order of Benedict.