The General Synod of the Church of England has voted to authorise the ordination of women as bishops and approved motions to work with people who believe that, theologically, the vote was a mistake, reports the Catholic News Service.
Before the vote yesterday, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, told the synod that 'to pass this legislation is to commit ourselves to an adventure in faith and hope. Like all adventures, it carries dangers ... uncertainties and for success will require integrity and courage.'
One of those uncertainties is its impact on the search for Christian unity. The Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches teach that since Jesus chose only men as his apostles, only men can be ordained priests and bishops.
Father Anthony Currer, the staff person for relations with Anglicans at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told Catholic News Service the vote 'is not creating a new reality for our dialogue,' since other provinces of the Anglican Communion, including the United States and Canada, already have women bishops.
When the General Synod took the first steps toward preparing for women bishops in 2008, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said: 'Such a decision means a break from the apostolic tradition maintained by all the churches of the first millennium and is, therefore, a further obstacle for reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Church of England.'
Archbishop Welby characterised the debate as involving 'genuine theological arguments which differ,' and not simply differences based on cultural influences regarding the role of women.
The Archbishop called on the House of Bishops to act on its promises by setting up a procedure for ensuring the place in the church of those who disagree. 'You don't chuck out family or even make it difficult for them to be at home, you love them and seek their well-being even when you disagree,' he said.
The vote came after several hours of debate, much of it focused on whether or not the motion offered sufficient guarantees for the place and pastoral care of those with theological grounds for opposing the ordination of women, and on commitments to keep the Church of England united despite differing positions.
The Church of England says "yes" to women bishops (Vatican Insider)