Church of England: Yes On Female Bishops

After a two-decade controversy, the Church of England's General Synod voted overwhelmingly for a plan to bring women into the episcopate. This means that, after approving female priests in 1993, the Church of England has finally closed the gap and cleared the way for women to enter into the highest places of the Church's clerical hierarchy, as bishops and as Archbishops of York or Canterbury. This also means that women bishops will be eligible to sit in the House of Lords, meaning they will play an active role in the government of the U.K.

I am certainly not thrilled with all the provisions of this measure, which includes a lot of coddling to soothe the worries of parishes that reject women's priesthood and/or episcopate. Whatever. Okay, players! I think that is likely to continually undermine women's authority and legitimacy. Which is going to be super-fun.

On the other hand, the best way to shore up women's authority and legitimacy as clergy is to ... just let them do it. Just do their jobs. Because letting people see those women in authority, and letting people get used to seeing women in authority, is an important part of changing the way the world views women.

The Archbishop of Canterbury also serves as a symbolic head of the global Anglican Communion, so the implications of this move go far beyond the Church of England, or even the U.K. The first women bishops will be under intense scrutiny, as they serve their church and play their part in increasing women's visible leadership in the world. I am wishing them the best of luck, because I know they will need it.

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