Anglicans in England formally accept the idea of women bishops

While Anglicans in some countries fight about the place of homosexuals in the church, the parent church in Britain has decided a point already settled in Canada: women can be bishops.

Canada has them, but English traditionalists say it's wrong

While Anglicans in some countries fight about the place of homosexuals in the church, the parent church in Britain has decided a point already settled in Canada: women can be bishops.

The General Synod, the ruling body of the Church of England, voted Monday to open the door to female bishops for the first time. But the synod remains divided about what should be done to calm traditionalists, some of whom have threatened to leave the church rather than accept the authority of a woman bishop.

The synod, meeting in the city of York, gave itself until February to come up with answers. Meanwhile, it voted down one proposal calling for the appointment of male "complementary bishops" — informally called super bishops — to cater to those who find themselves under female bishops and don't like it.

The CBC's Susan Ormiston, reporting from London, said there is a deeply conservative side to the Church of England, an institution rooted in history and difficult to change.

The question now, she said, is how many clergy and church members will quit over the synod's decision. Some 1,300 had threatened to do so before the vote.

CBC reporter Tom Parry, also in London, said the church's many female priests had previously been barred from rising to bishop, and one of them, Rev. Katherine Rumens, called that a stained-glass ceiling.

The issues, Rumens said, are patriarchy and power.

"You hear these conversations about safeguards against women and then you think, 'What other group in society would we need to have safeguards against?'" she said.

But conservatives like Alison Ruoff, a member of the synod, said that letting women become bishops goes against the Bible.

"When God created man and woman, yes, they're equal, but there's also a difference," she said. "And I do not want to see a situation of women bishops that men would actually be under the authority of a woman."

Some traditionalists stress that Christ's disciples were male and question whether the ordination of a priest by a woman bishop would be valid.

Such arguments are ancient history for Anglicans in Canada and the United States, among other countries, but remain divisive in some quarters in England.

Meanwhile, there are bitter fights in the wider Anglican movement over such things as the blessing of same-sex marriages, which has been done in a few Canadian churches, and the ordination of an openly homosexual bishop in the United States.