As it happened: Vote backs women bishops

Key Points

  • The Church of England has voted in favour of allowing women to be appointed as bishops
  • The vote took place at a meeting of the ruling general synod in York - 18 months after a previous attempt was blocked
  • The Yes votes overturns centuries of tradition in a Church that has been deeply divided over the issue for decades
  • Anglican leaders had warned of severe damage to the Church's reputation

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    Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the meeting of the general synod, the governing body of the Church of England, in York.


    The synod is set to decide on whether to allow women into its top ranks as bishops.


    The vote comes 18 months after a previous attempt was blocked. It was passed by the Houses of Bishops and Clergy but was six lay members' votes short in the House of Laity.

    General Synod meets at York University on 14 July 2014

    The historic vote will take place at the University of York where the Synod has been meeting since Friday.


    So what are the issues behind a debate which has divided the Church for more than 20 years since the appointment of the first women priests was approved? Our Q&A on the vote explains the background.


    The general synod has voted Yes to appointing women bishops in the Church of England.


    The House of Bishops recorded 37 votes in favour, two against with one abstention. The House of Clergy had 162 in favour, 25 against and four abstentions. The House of Laity voted 152 for, 45 against with five abstentions.


    The legislation that the general synod voted on contained concessions for traditionalists unwilling to serve under a woman bishop - giving them the right to ask for a male alternative and to take disputes to an independent arbitrator.


    The traditionalists had argued that they would lose their legal right to the care of a male bishop, and enter an uncertain future relying heavily on the goodwill of future women bishops.


    But women priests - who make up a third of Anglican clergy but often take unpaid and low-profile jobs - had called for the change, saying full equality would greatly enhance their status in the church.


    What were the issues behind the vote? BBC News religious affairs Robert Pigott explains the issues and history of the long-running debate.

    Synod members voting

    How were the votes actually cast? Synod members were given a handheld device.


    Ruth Gledhill of the Tablet, a Catholic weekly newspaper, described today's events as "absolutely huge", adding that the "positive decision" has come after nearly a century of debate.

    Rob emails:

    As far the vote goes I think it is an absolute no brainer that it is supported in light of what the Church of England has already accepted as Biblical truth concerning women as parish vicars. Any other outcome to me seems ludicrously inconsistent. I also think it very wise for the measures to be put in place where churches who do not agree that women bishops are condoned in the Bible can request a male leader.

    Carmen emails:

    It's the 21st Century and still the immense majority of the people in important roles / jobs are still men, even in fields where most members of staff are women. Women still do not earn as much as men and women's career prospects are still hindered. It is awfully sad that even some women do not appreciate the potential of their own and believe that men are better suited for leading roles.


    Women bishops are already in office in a number of Anglican Communion provinces - including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Cuba and Swaziland.

    Graeme emails:

    The attempts by trendy liberals to force female bishops on the Church of England highlights the fact that increasingly, people professing to be Christians are seeking to ingratiate themselves with the world that is opposed to God, rather than God himself.

    Alexander emails:

    The Conservative Christians are correct. The Bible does indeed teach that women can not have a role of authority within the religion. As Jesus was male, women by their very nature can not understand him as well as men do. This is what several letters by Paul, John, etc, say.

    Joan emails:

    A large majority of clergy are happy with the amendments, the House of Bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury and our Prime Minister all want this matter to be resolved by acceptance of the legislation, then what else can be done to satisfy the House of Laity - nothing it seems. They are damaging our Church, and this has got to be stopped.


    Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, has tweeted his support for the outcome of the women bishops vote. "Well done to @JustinWelby for his leadership on securing a yes vote for women bishops," he wrote, adding that it is a "big moment" for the Church of England.

    Rev Barry Jackson emails:

    Just to point out that the vast majority of biblical scholars and clergy would say that the New Testament clearly shows women in top leadership positions and so having women bishops is entirely 'biblical'.


    Diana Johnson, Labour MP for Hull North, has posted on Twitter: "Delighted that the Church of England #Synod has voted for women bishops. Pity it's taken so long - theological case was won 23 years ago!"


    Women priests were first ordained in 1994 and the Church of England has been debating whether they should be appointed as bishops since 2000. They currently make up about a third of the clergy.


    The general synod approved the proposal to allow women to take up senior roles in the Church of England after almost five hours of debate.

    General synod

    tweets: Another nail in Anglican unity's coffin. Split now inevitable.


    Lorna Ashworth, a lay member of the general synod, voted against women bishops. She told the BBC News Channel she was not comfortable with the result "but we will do what we can to make it work". However, she warns it will not be a "smooth road ahead" for the Church.

    John, London, emails:

    As a Roman Catholic, I am very pleased by this vote! Not because it may put off the day when Anglicans and Catholics are reunited, but because it may hasten the day when Catholics, too, can benefit from the leadership of women bishops.

    Rt Revd Dr JG Miles emails:

    This action makes a lie of any claim by the Church of England to be part of the Catholic Church. The Synod has no authority to make decisions about Holy Orders separate from the Roman Catholic and wider Orthodox churches.


    Watch the historic moment when the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, announced the result of the vote on women bishops to the general synod.

    17:29: Breaking News

    The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says in a statement that he is "delighted" with today's vote result. "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."


    The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, says in a statement: "This is a momentous day. Generations of women have served the Lord faithfully in the Church of England for centuries. It is a moment of joy today: the office of Bishop is open to them."


    It's possible that a woman bishop could be appointed in the Diocese of Gloucester. The incumbent, Bishop Michael Perham, is preparing to retire in November. The Reverend Canon Nikki Arthy of Gloucester Cathedral said a woman bishop would be ''very, very welcome'' as his replacement.

    Dave Ellis

    tweets: Utterly, utterly irrelevant to modern life. Just another spasm in the death throes of religion.

    Charlotte emails:

    At last! My mother was a member of the Synod that voted in favour of women priests and she says they never thought that they were voting for women to be second-class priests with reduced promotion prospects. It was a despicable rearguard action by those who cannot accept progress and it is appalling that it has taken so long to reach a position which does not insult more than half the world's population.


    The Dean of Salisbury, the Very Reverend June Osborne, said allowing women to take up the role of bishop was going to change not just the Church of England but "our society as well, because it's one more step in accepting that women are really and truly equal in spiritual authority, as well as in leadership in society".


    The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, seen here during the general synod session, said today's events were "the completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests".

    The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby,

    The Reverend Dr Rosemarie Mallet, of Southwark diocese, said: "I'm absolutely joyful. Thank God after 20 years of very hard work we now have a decision that can help us work for everyone in the Church and engage everybody to be part of that ministry."

    Oliver emails:

    I am an evangelical Christian who has been part of the Church of England my entire life. I am saddened by the outcome of the vote on women bishops because the motives appear to be entirely secular. The reasons cited by supporters are based around 'rights' and not around what the Bible actually says.


    It has been an emotional day for many women in the Church, including the Rev Dr Hannah Cleugh.

    The Reverend Dr Hannah Cleugh hugs two other women, who have their backs to the camera
    Megan emails:

    As a member of a different church, I wish the Church of England well as they reorder their internal affairs. In my church - the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints - we have no 'professional' clergy and all worthy adult male members hold the priesthood. Each to their own.

    Rev Gillian Rossiter emails:

    I have prayed all my life that the calling I have received is now honoured and that those women who are so called to be bishops can be.


    It's a champagne moment for many women in the Church. The BBC's online coverage includes the full story of the day's events and analysis of this "cosmic shift" for the organisation.

    A woman pours a glass of champagne as another holds a poster saying: "A woman's place is in the house... of bishops".

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