Church of England approves female bishopsOn 01/31/2019 by admin
(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)
Women have broken through a centuries old “glass ceiling,” with the heads of the Church of England signing legislation enabling them to be ordained as bishops.
As the “mother” church of Anglican churches around the world, it sets a symbolic precedent those churches may choose to follow.
Australia, Canada, India and South Africa already have female bishops, but not all dioceses in Australia support it.
Phillippa Carisbrooke reports.
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The legislation may have only just been signed, but speculation is already rife about who will be ordained the Church of England’s first female bishop.
The first black female chaplain to the House of Commons, the Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, is tipped.
Speaking to the BBC, she has acknowledged there are still people who do not believe women are capable of being bishops.
But she hopes seeing it in action will change their minds over time.
“We’re not trying to force anyone to accept women as bishops or as priests. What we believe is that God has called women to serve as priests, to serve as bishops. And they will get on with it. They will simply get on with it.”
There are currently nine vacancies, each of which may now be filled by either a male or female priest.
The Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend James Langstaff, has told the BBC it is an excellent situation.
“We’re now at a point where we’re saying men and women can be considered on absolutely equal terms. So, in each instance, it’s the best person for the role. It’s the person who the diocesan representatives and those others involved believe to be the right person who fulfils the specification of what they’re looking for. But, clearly, we’ve now got a much wider range of candidates.”
The Anglican Church of Australia began ordaining women as bishops in 2008.
It has one female bishop of a diocese and four female assistant bishops, ranging across Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Wagga Wagga and Grafton in New South Wales.
Sydney has no female priests or bishops.
The Bishop of South Sydney, Rob Forsyth, says the diocese, like the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, is not convinced women are suited to the roles.
“The trouble is that there is deep conscientious difference about the appropriateness of women as priests or bishops within our Church, and that deep conscientious difference is not going to go away in my lifetime.”
Bishop Forsyth says the ordination of female bishops in Australia has gone fairly well despite conflicting beliefs because dioceses are free to have different rules.
Bishop Barbara Darling was the second woman priest to be consecrated in Australia.
Six years on, the Assistant Bishop in the Eastern Region of the Melbourne diocese continues to experience pockets of resistance.
“I have been each year to the combined bishops meeting. That’s about 35 bishops from across Australia. And some of those are people who do not agree with women being bishops, but most of them are still very courteous to us and accepting.
The Church of England’s first female bishop is expected to be appointed next year.