Change is imminent

Published March 1, 2006

The Church of England edged a step closer to accepting women bishops and the ability to have a female Archbishop of Canterbury as spiritual head of the worldwide Anglican Communion following a report by a denominational group. The 57-page document, entitled Women in the Episcopate: the Guildford Group Report, issued on Jan. 16 by a group of bishops, was produced at the request of the General Synod, the church’s parliament. It was debated in February but a final vote on further action will happen in July. The first response by opponents of change came from the Anglican evangelical Church Society whose chairman, Rev. George Curry, said: “The church continues to disintegrate. It is losing its credibility in the nation.” In July 2005 synod voted overwhelmingly in favour of the principle of women bishops. The new report puts forward a compromise to avert the threat of a schism which faced the Church of England over the admission of women priests a decade ago and more recently over its position on homosexuality and same-sex civil partnerships. It recommends a panel of male bishops should be appointed to care for all parishes that reject women bishops. Bishop Christopher Hill of Guildford, who led the group that issued the report, said it would be illogical to have women priests without bishops. On the question of a female Archbishop of Canter-bury, likely to be strongly opposed by many Anglicans in Africa and Asia, he said that the church would fall foul of Britain’s Sex Discrimination Act if its highest post were denied to women.


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