Church Of England Divide

The Church of England’s decision to allow female bishops might hinder the relationship with Catholics.

The General Synod of the Church of England recently voted to overturn the rule that banned female bishops. This came after several years of division on the subject from internal and external sources. The decision is viewed by many to be the end result of a long process that began when women were allowed to become ordained as priests. However, this latest move has prompted concerns about the progress that the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church has made towards ecumenical dialogue.

Why The Difference In Opinion?

The Roman Catholic Church does not wish to allow female bishops within their church because they feel that it goes against the tradition that was set by Christ Himself. This is due to the fact that the priests and bishops of the church are believed to be acting in the person of Christ as the head of His church. However, the Anglican faith does not place such an emphasis on the concept of transubstantiation, and therefore sees no reason to exclude women from priesthood and being bishops.

Progress And Problems

One of the reasons that this latest move by the Church of England is so controversial is that it comes at a time when there has been a vast increase in the communication between the two churches. Only a month ago the Archbishop of Canterbury met with Pope Francis and opened a dialogue about new steps towards ecumenicalism. This kindled the hopes that there will be greater levels of cooperation and Christian unity. However, many people seem to believe that allowing women to become bishops has resulted in a setback for this attempt at consensus.

The Catholic Bishops of England have released a statement that refers to the decision to allow female bishops as an unfortunate obstacle on the path to unity between the two churches. As a direct conflict to the idea of male exclusivity in the leadership positions, it appears that the decision could play a larger role in future talks between the two entities. However, as much as it has been regarded as a potential problem, the decision has not caused either side to waiver in their dedication to collaborate now and in the future.

While the Pope has not released an official statement on the ruling, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said that he believes that there is more potential for unity than division. This sentiment has been echoed by individuals in both churches who recognize the difficulty that this position causes, but still see the potential for progress.


Follow the Conversation on Twitter