Church to announce 1st woman bishop

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Published: Wednesday 17th December 2014 by The News Editor

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The Church of England is to announce the appointment of its first woman bishop.

It is believed a female priest is to be elevated to the position just a month after the Anglican General Synod made history by approving the legislation.

The change to canon law was passed by an overwhelming majority with a simple show of hands at a meeting in London and comes 20 years after the first women were ordained as Church of England priests.

The identity of the priest has yet to be revealed and the Church of England declined to comment.

Previously the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, said the church was starting “a completely new phase of our existence”.

Speaking to reporters after the vote, he said: “It has taken a very, very long time and the way is now open to select people for the episcopacy, to nominate them on the basis simply of our sense that they are called by God to be in that position without qualification as to their gender.”

He said that half of bishops could be women within 10-15 years.

“It depends how quickly people retire or die – I rather hope they retire and have a long and healthy retirement. 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.

“We are working very, very hard on training and development of people, men and women, for senior posts in the Church. The aim is … that you end up with a big pool of people where gender is irrelevant and that that pool is pretty evenly mixed.

“There is a very conscious effort to make it easy for Crown Nomination Commissions to be able to have a fair choice between men and women. And we are going to take this very very seriously.”

The first official step on the route to women bishops came in 1975 when the General Synod voted that there was ”no fundamental objection” to the ordination of women to the priesthood but the first motion failed in 1978.

Some seven years later, in 1985, a vote allowed women to become deacons, before the General Synod voted in 1992 to permit women to be ordained in the priesthood, with the first 1,500 ordained two years later.

And in 2005 a motion was approved to remove the legal barriers to women bishops, although the first attempt at legislation failed by just six votes in 2012, ahead of a second successful vote this November.

Among the leading contenders to become the first woman bishop are The Very Rev Vivienne Faull, 59, Dean of York Minster, The Very Rev Dr Jane Hedges, 58, Dean of Norwich and The Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, 53, chaplain to the House of Commons and a chaplain to the Queen .

Published: Wednesday 17th December 2014 by The News Editor

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