There are probably more female clergy in the Church of England and its north American counterparts — The Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church in the U.S. — than in many other Protestant denominations. But a glass ceiling formally exists preventing women from rising to the rank of bishop (literally ‘overseer’ in scripture).
Superficial media reports suggested that the recent attempt to change the rules failed because the two-thirds majority required for change wasn’t attained, but that’s an oversimplification of how the vote took place.
In fact, what was required was a two-thirds majority in each of the three “houses” that are represented at the annual conference: Bishops, clergy and laity.
The bishops themselves — by definition all male — were actually the least opposed to the idea. If it were just an overall popular vote needed to carry the resolution for change, their overwhelming majority support would have been enough to reach the two-thirds needed.
The clergy weren’t so overwhelming but also supported the need for change.
It was — and this is the under reported part of the story — in the “house” consisting of lay people appointed to the General Synod where the two-thirds majority failed.
The House of Bishops voted 44 in favour, with three against and two recorded abstentions. In the House of Clergy, 148 voted in favour, 45 against and there were no abstentions.
But in the House of Laity, 74 voted against, compared to 132 in favour with no abstentions. ~ BreakingNews.ie
Honestly, I would have expected the three votes to be the other way around; the rank and file pushing for a more progressive situation, and the powers that be wanting to maintain the status quo. But what do I know about Anglicans?
At least one traditionalist, who ought to be happy with the outcome, is still upset that the vote happened.
And the Huffington Post, never wanting to miss out on sensationalism said the church “faces growing pressure to rip up its rulebook to allow the ordination of women bishops.”
The newly appointed archbishop feels it’s just a matter of time, and expects to consecrate a female bishop during his term of office.