Church of England said to face decision on women bishops

Posted: Friday, November 12, 2004

LONDON (AP) The Church of England remains sharply divided on whether women should be priests and soon must decide whether they should be bishops as well, a church report said.

Simply maintaining the status quo won't silence advocates of women bishops and there's growing pressure in all Christian churches to widen women's ministry, a commission chaired by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester said.

The church's General Synod could decide in February whether to proceed with formal consideration of female bishops and a proposal could be formalized in July, but a final decision would be years away.

The Church of England voted in 1992 to allow women priests but not bishops. Some now want the church to drop the women bishops prohibition, and abolish the system of ''flying bishops'' who supervise parishes that reject women priests.

Some opponents of women bishops want to reverse the church's 1992 decision and others want a formal structure for those parishes that cannot accept women bishops.

Anglican churches in New Zealand, Canada and the United States have women bishops. Last month, Australia's synod failed to provide women bishops the necessary two-thirds approval. Eleven other national churches have authorized women bishops, but have yet to elect any.

Eight Anglican national churches do not ordain women priests.

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