Church in Wales backs women bishops


The governing body voted in favour by a large majority

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Women bishops will be allowed in the Church in Wales following a landmark yes vote.

Bishops within the Church tabled a bill calling for the change and it was finally accepted by its governing body after a previous vote in 2008 narrowly failed.

There were huge cheers in the hall as the result was announced.

In England, the issue is due to be discussed again in November. Ireland and Scotland both allow female bishops.

Despite female bishops being allowed in Northern Ireland and Scotland, none has been elected yet.

The Church in Wales' bishops wanted a second bill to allow the Church's constitution to be rewritten for traditionalist priests who do not want to be led by a woman.


The decision means that the Church in Wales could elect its first woman bishop in the next few months, although in practice vacancies among its seven bishops are relatively rare.

Traditionalists will have to rely on a code of practice drawn up by bishops for any exemptions from the oversight of women bishops.

Some traditionalists have warned that they might leave the Church in Wales.

The decision leaves the Church of England as the only Anglican Church in the UK not yet having legislated to accept women bishops.

The Episcopal Church of Scotland and the Church of Ireland have cleared the way for women bishops but not yet appointed one.

But reformers successfully put forward an amendment earlier in the day to avoid delays in adopting the change during a meeting at Lampeter, Ceredigion.

Their amendment led to the straight yes-no vote

The governing body comprises more than 140 members and is made up of three separate divisions, with the six bishops, clerical representatives and non-clerical representatives.

The groups voted separately with a majority two-thirds vote required before the amended bill could be accepted.

Back in 2008, the move was defeated by just three votes but this time the vote was strongly in favour.

In the breakdown, the laity voted 57 for, 14 against, with two abstentions; the clergy section saw 37 voting for and 10 against, while the bishops voted unanimously in favour.

Start Quote

For too many years, sadly, the Church has been lagging behind”

End Quote Rt Rev Gregory Cameron Bishop of St Asaph

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, called it "an historic day for the Church in Wales."

He told BBC Wales he hoped it would be possible that no-one would be lost to the Church and said bishops would now be drawing up a code of practice.

"There are two things we've done today - 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," said Dr Morgan.

"Secondly, we want to take care of those who find that decision difficult."

Dr Morgan praised the way in which the debate had been conducted and, addressing members, added: "I hope you will trust us as bishops to prepare a code of practice."

The bill was proposed by the Bishop of St Asaph, the Right Reverend Gregory Cameron, and seconded by the Bishop of Bangor, the Right Reverend Andy John.

And Bishop John said: "We can by God's grace ordain women to the episcopate. Thank you, governing body."

'More hospitable'

Bishop Cameron said the change would come into effect in a year, to allow time for pastoral care to be drawn up for those still opposed to women bishops.

"For too many years, sadly, the Church has been lagging behind," he said, admitting his surprise at the strength of mood within the governing body.

"I'm very glad we got the result we have today.

"The journey has been going in that direction for a little while," he told BBC Radio Wales

"The Church changes very slowly and you have to learn to live with that."

Church in Wales meeting The vote was taken at a governing body meeting in Lampeter, Ceredigion

But one of those who spoke against, Dr Elliott King, said: "Personally I'm disappointed that the bill has passed but we have a great opportunity now over the next 12 months to work together to find a way forward for us all to stay within the Church."

Mary Stallard, co-director of St Giles' Centre for Religious Education and Faith Development in Wrexham, said she expected the move to "open things up in all sorts of ways".

She told BBC Radio Wales: "One of my daughters, who's 16, said spontaneously, 'this opens up a possibility for me, it makes me think that going into the Church might be something I would consider'.

"And I think all sorts of people will see this as an opening, something that makes the Church a little bit more hospitable. Anglicans never want to exclude anybody."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 266.

    This is good news! It's about time that the Christian Church stopped appeasing the misogynists who oppose equality in the church. (Or anywhere else for that matter)
    Women make up half the sky, always have and always will.
    For those of you who don't have a set of religious beliefs, why so vituperative? If faith doesn't matter to you, how about showing some tolerance?

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    Having attended a Church in Wales church for the last 25 years and had a female vicar for some of that time, this is great news, and I am delighted for the many female clergy within the Church in Wales.

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    Why do people get so 'het' up at the idea of women Bishops, I am not a believer even though I was brought up in the Christian religion. It does not matter at all if there are women Bishops or even Priests what does matter is that ALL members of the Clergy are decent, loving, kind and believe everything they preach. Religion like everything else has to grow and change just like everything else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    I think it is sad that the Church is bowing to political correctness. I believe that women should not be bishops. Call me a bigot or whatever else you want but is to me fundamentally wrong to do this. I will defend the right of people to attend a church that allows this but those in favour please allow those of us who disagree our own rights to have beliefs of our own and not just follow blindly

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    If there is a God and I believe there is, it will treat all people as equals and judge them not according to Earthly values or the religions they held but for what they were .


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