The Telegraph reports…
“The Church of England has entered what the Archbishop of Canterbury hailed as a “completely new phase” of its existence as legislation enabling women to become bishops came into force.
Forty years of debate and campaigning over the role of women in leadership in the Established Church was brought to an end in just 10 minutes as the Church’s General Synod symbolically showed its approval for the change through a simple show of hands and a few signatures on a piece of paper.
It opens the way for the first woman to be appointed to the episcopate as early as the end of this year and means that the next Archbishop of Canterbury or York could be female.
But amid quiet euphoria from campaigners the Most Rev Justin Welby insisted it could take at least a decade for the Church to achieve an equal balance between men and women in its senior leadership.
He said there was now a major effort under way to ensure that women priests, who make up about a third of clergy in the Church of England, are talent-spotted and put forward for possible selection.
The legislation, which was passed in July and received royal assent last week, became law just before 3pm on Monday through a short item on the agenda of the General Synod, which is sitting in London.
The brief but formally worded Canon was read out by the Synod’s chief legal adviser Stephen Slack followed by a vote, conducted by a show of hands. It was carried with an overwhelming majority, with around 20 voting against.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who chaired the session, invited Archbishop Welby and other officers of the Synod to sign the Canon into law.
They were watched in silence, observed in a packed public gallery, before Dr Sentamu led the Synod in prayer for the “Holy catholic church”.
Archbishop Welby, said: “I think it means above all that we have started a completely new phase of our existence as the church.
“It has taken a very, very long time but the way is now open to select people to the episcopacy on the basis simply of our sense that they are called by God to be in that position without qualification as to their gender.”
But he said it would take at least a decade before there is an even balance between men and women in the episcopate.
“It has got to be 10 years allowing for the fact that men will be nominated to some sees as well and it could be longer,” he said.
“We are working very, very hard on training and development of people, men and women, for senior posts in the Church. We are starting a whole new way of training.
“As well as other people, the wild cards who you haven’t spotted and you suddenly think gosh that is the right person – the aim is that you come up with a big pool of people where gender is irrelevant and that pool is pretty evenly mixed.
“There is a very conscious effort to make it easy for Crown Nominations Commissions to be able to have a fair choice between men and women.”
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, a leading figure in Reform Judaism, said: “Women have long been accepted as rabbis and have gone on to occupy positions of religious authority in both major synagogues and Jewish institutions.
“Those who thought Judaism would collapse when this happened have been proved resoundingly wrong and I am sure the same will be found in the Church.”