Lancashire’s bishops have responded to the ‘yes’ vote on women bishops at the Church of England’s General Synod.
The Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, has welcomed the result of the vote, which has passed legislation to allow women bishops.
Meanwhile the Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev. John Goddard, who is opposed to women clergy, is pleased that a way forward has been found that accommodates all views.
Bishop Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster said the vote means women can now serve equally in every task in the church, and Rev. Canon Fleur Green, Bishop’s Adviser on Women’s Ministry, says it is positive step forward.
The vote on Monday came after previous proposed legislation was rejected in November 2012.
In the 18 months since, work has been done to identify a new approach which would receive the necessary support.
The new legislation to allow women to become Bishops, as with the old, fell under Article 8 of the Constitution of the General Synod, meaning that it could not receive the final approval of the General Synod unless it has first been approved by the majority of the dioceses in the Church of England.
All the Dioceses, including Blackburn Diocese, the Church of England in Lancashire, voted in favour – paving the way for the historic vote today.
Bishop Julian said: “I am delighted General Synod has taken this historic step which means women will now take their place alongside men as Bishops in the future.
“I am fully supportive of women clergy serving in every part of the Church’s leadership and I recently ordained male and female priests in Blackburn Cathedral.”
Despite his support for women bishops and women clergy in general, it is now well-known that when a previous set of proposals for women bishops came before General Synod for final approval in 2012, Bishop Julian, then Archdeacon of Dorking in Surrey, voted against the measure.
He took this stance because he believed not enough consideration had been given to those unable to accept the ministry of women priests and bishops.
He said today: “I hope my vote at General Synod in November 2012 was a reassurance to those opposed to this development.
“I have always wanted to be a figure of unity on this matter and have strived to ensure there would be an honoured place for both positions within the mainstream of the Church of England.”
He added: “Given my previous position I am heartened that we have now reached a point where the proposals have been accepted; while at the same time ensuring that those in Lancashire and elsewhere who, in all conscience, cannot accept women bishops will not be marginalised and won’t be pushed to the edge of The Church of England.”
Bishop John Goddard, the Bishop of Burnley, added: “The unity of the Church is very important to me. Anything that could disrupt it I have thought theologically carefully about and then taken a stance. On principle therefore I voted against the measure.
“Nevertheless, as I have taken such stances, I have always aimed to engage with those who disagree with me but to engage with honesty, and by God’s grace I am pleased today that we seem to have found a way through in relation to this issue.”
Meanwhile Bishop Geoff Pearson, the Bishop of Lancaster, said: “This vote helps women to serve equally in every task within the church. It helps us all to move forward in mission.
“Those of us in favour will have to work gracefully and generously with those who will be disappointed with today’s result.”
Rev. Canon Green said: “This is a great day for the CofE; a positive step forward to have women bishops.
“It gives us a level playing field and when a future vacancy arises everyone who wants to apply can be considered and the best person can then be chosen – whoever that may be.”