Church of England dioceses unanimously vote in favour of women bishops

The Synod must approve the change in July before it takes effect

The ordination of women bishops has moved a step closer as all the Church of England’s 44 dioceses voted to allow the change.

It leaves only one hurdle left to change centuries of church practice – a final vote at the General Synod in July.

The body previously approved welcoming women bishops by a huge 378 to eight majority last year, starting the process.

It would allow women to become bishops and archbishops and create a “declaration” by the Church of England setting out guidance for parishes which reject female ministry on traditionalist, ideological grounds.

James Langstaff, the Bishop of Rochester and chairman of the committee on women bishops, said the dioceses expressed their approval "very clearly".

He added: "I pray that the Synod will continue to approach this decision in a prayerful and generous way as we move towards voting on the proposal that women may be bishops in the Church of England.”

In 2011 both London and Chichester diocesan synods voted against the legislation.

The latest seal of approval will be welcome to campaigners, who were devastated in 2012 when legislation for women bishops was rejected at the final hurdle by just six votes in the House of Laity.

That decision was described by the Women and the Church campaign group as “a devastating blow for the Church of England and the people of this country”.

While those proposals included a strict and complex “code of practice” for dissenting parishes, the new package lays out plans for an ombudsman, or independent reviewer, that would rule on disputes at a local level.

Anglican churches in Australia, New Zealand and the United States already have women serving as bishops.

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