Anglican Church in Wales votes to allow female bishops

(Photo: REUTERS / Toby Melville)Clergy members listen during the enthronement ceremony for the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at Canterbury Cathedral at Canterbury, southern England March 21, 2013. The new spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans was enthroned by a female cleric, taking the helm at a time when the troubled church risks tearing itself apart over gay marriage and women bishops.

Women are to be allowed to become bishops in the Welsh Anglican Church, the governing body has decided.

Members of the Church in Wales' 144-strong governing body voted through the proposals at a meeting in Lampeter on Thursday.

Canon Jenny Wigley, from Radyr in Cardiff, said during a passionate debate that the Bible says there should be no differences between people.

"It's Christ-like people that the church chooses as bishops, and I hope and pray that the Church in Wales gives an unqualified and unreserved yes to the Christ-like qualities of our women priests alongside our men," she said.

Anglicans in England believe the decision by the Welsh church will increase pressure on Church of England leader, Archbishop Justin Welby, who favours a speedier transition in church to allow women bishops.

A two-thirds majority in each three of the Welsh church's houses of laity, clergy and bishops was required.

The laity voted 57 for and 14 against with two abstentions, the clergy backed the move by 37 to 10 while the bishops voted unanimously in favour.

Members of the governing body removed a clause which would have delayed the implementation of the church bill until a separate one providing statutory provision for opponents had been passed, The Church Times reported.

The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, said before the debate that it makes "no theological sense" not to ordain women as bishops when the church already allowed them to become deacons and priests.

After the vote he said it was "an historic day for the Church in Wales."

"There are two things we've done today" he noted, "Firstly we've said it's possible for women to be ordained to the episcopate; that's a very important principle for the mission of the Church. Secondly, we want to take care of those who find that decision difficult."

The Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, said the change will come into effect in November 2015, to allow time for a pastoral care plan to be drawn up for those still opposed to women bishops.

The think tank Ekklesia reported that It is thought that he decision will put pressure on the Church of England to follow the Welsh church as the Anglican churches in Scotland and Northern Ireland also allow female bishops, none have been ordained.

Women can also serve as Anglican bishops in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

In many developing countries Anglican churches, however, oppose the ordination of any female clergy and they resist reforms allowing for women in the clergy.

A Church of England synod will consider a proposed church allowing for female bishops in November but opposition from within the laity has prevented such changes from passing till the present day.

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