Sunderland canon welcomes ruling on women bishops

(C) Keith Blundy / Aegies Associates
(C) Keith Blundy / Aegies Associates
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WEARSIDE’s leading churchwoman has welcomed news the Church of England is to smash its ‘stained glass ceiling’ and allow the appointment of female bishops.

The Anglican General Synod – the church’s governing body – passed a change to canon law by an overwhelming majority at its London meeting yesterday.

The decision to allow women to ascend to the highest level of the church’s hierarchy comes 20 years after they were first ordained as priests.

Sheila Bamber, canon provost at Sunderland Minster, said: “It is a moment the church has been waiting for too long.

“It will be nice to see women taking their place in the House of Bishops as of right.

“I very much hope now that everybody will be working together for the good of the whole church and the community.”

The change sees the simple addition of a sentence to Canon 33, which reads: “A man or a woman may be consecrated to the office of bishop.”

The first female bishop could take her seat as early as next year, with The Very Rev Dr Jane Hedges, 58, dean of Norwich, the bookies’ favourite to lead the way. Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, 40, who is the vicar of Belmont and Pittington, is also a contender.

Women were first ordained in the Church of England in 1994 and they now make up about a third of clergy.

Plans to allow them to stand as bishops were derailed by just six votes two years ago.

The General Synod overwhelmingly backed legislation in July and yesterday’s vote rubber-stamped the move.

In an online vote 67 per cent of Echo readers agreed with the plans.