Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - Church of England to vote on women bishops

The governing body of the Church of England is due to vote on whether it will allow women to become bishops - or continue debating the issue for several more years.

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 20 November

Church of England to vote on women bishops

The governing body of the Church of England is due to vote on whether it will allow women to become bishops – or continue debating the issue for several more years.

The 470-strong synod has been locked in discussions at Church House in Westminster since Monday and is expected to vote within three days on whether to approve legislation that would pave the way for the first female bishops.

It has been nearly 20 years since the Church voted in favour of female priests, who now make up a third of the clergy, but deep theological divisions remain.

Women are already supporting Church infrastructure by working in senior roles as archdeacons and deans of cathedrals. The general consensus within the Church is that women should now be able to move further up the hierarchy and become bishops.

Simon Barrow, co-director of the Christian think tank Ekklesia, told the BBC the Church would suffer embarrassment it if did not support the move.

"It's inevitable that it will happen and it was inevitable from the moment the Church of England decided to ordain women as priests," he said.

"So it's only a question really of when it will happen. If it doesn't happen now, the Church is going to look desperately embarrassed."

Approval requires a two-third majority in each of the synod's three houses: bishops, clergy and laity. If approved, the motion will then go to Parliament before receiving royal assent.

There have been many stumbling blocks since the legislation was initially proposed in 2000. Some traditionalists believe that because Jesus chose only men to be his apostles, the Church should be led by men alone. Lay member Emma Forward said that a vote against women bishops was “essential” as it would otherwise “go against the Church and the future of the Church".

Under the terms of the vote, if a parish objected to a female bishop she would be required to delegate to a male stand-in. While many Anglicans and Catholics think women bishops should not be allowed at all, liberals feel that this compromise revolves too much around the will of their opponents.

Meanwhile, in Swaziland, The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has ordained Ellinah Wamukoya as the continent's first woman bishop in a historic move.

Questions for discussion

General Discussion

  • Do you think there are some jobs that only men should do and some jobs only women should do?
  • In your opinion, do men make better leaders than women? Why/why not?
  • Can you think of any other examples in our society of men and women not being treated equally?
  • Is there anything we could do to make our school a more equal place?

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