Women Bishops in England!

Well, not quite so fast. General Synod today voted to accept the plan for implementation of women bishops. It now goes to the dioceses for comment and input, and will come back before General Synod in 2012, I believe. There is much consternation among conservatives and speculation among some observers that a mass exodus will ensue. Truth be told, all I know about the Church of England is what I read in blogs, so I’m hardly an expert prognosticator.

Much of the news in the past few days has had to do with the defeat of the Archbishops’ amendment, which would have provided for something of a two-track episcopacy, in deference to those who refuse to believe women can be bishops (or priests, for that matter). Many think that the amendment’s defeat, coming on top of the disastrous outcome for the renewed push to appoint Jeffery Johns (gay, but celibate) as Bishop of Southwark, has dealt a body-blow to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s prestige and authority. I have no idea if that’s true. I do know that the ABC has lost considerable support on this side of the Atlantic.

I find two things surprising. First is that the Archbishops’ Amendment was defeated by votes from the clergy (it had to pass in all three orders–bishops, clergy, and lay). Second, the overwhelming majority by which the overall measure passed: 374 in favor, 14 against, 17 abstentions.

I’m all for trying to accommodate, and indeed retain minority viewpoints within the larger church, but the noes and abstentions amount to less than 10% of the total votes cast. That’s not a minority. All of the years of bending over backward to accommodate oponents of women’s ordination is little more than allowing the tail to wag the dog.

Let’s see how many clergy actually swim the Tiber.

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