Church Of England May Start Allowing Female Bishops

UPDATED. After a years-long struggle, the church’s governing body is finally voting — and female bishops could be ordained as early as 2014.

1. The Church of England’s governing body is holding a three-day summit to vote on whether women can become bishops.

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The governing body comprises 470 members and is known as the “General Synod,” which is a truly A+ name. It will reach a decision Tuesday.

2. There have been female priests in England since 1992, and they currently make up a third of all British clergy.

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3. However, that debate alone took 25 years to settle.

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Above, a woman advocating for ordaining female clergy back in 1978. (Also, in case you’re not totally up-to-date on your knowledge of Anglican church structure, the difference between priests and bishops is that the former are local, looking after single parishes or communities, while the latter oversee a whole group of these parishes in what’s known as a “diocese.” Basically, it comes down to power.)

4. The vote is expected to be tight.

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5. If the legislation doesn’t pass, then the whole process needs to start over and couldn’t be completed until 2019.

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Reverend Rosie Harper (left) told the BBC, “If the proposed legislation fails, the consequences I believe are far more severe…a church with lower moral standards than the rest of society risks its right to comment on other issues.” She went on to say that failure to pass the measure “will inevitably be seen as the act of a dying church more wedded to the past than committed to hope for the future.”

6. And if it does, then England could see its first ordained female bishop as early as 2014.

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7. UPDATE: On Tuesday, the measure was put to a vote and failed to pass.

Pool / Reuters

It would have required a two-thirds majority, and the final vote was 132 in favor and 74 against.

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