October 4, 2011

Women bishops could help to humanise priesthood

by Jan Harris

As the full inclusion of women in the Church of England draws closer, Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said that this could help to ‘humanise’ the ordained ministry.

Dr Rowan Williams has advised the Church to prepare for a culture change when the bar to women’s ordination as bishops is eventually removed.

Before the ordination of women as bishops passes into Church law, there has to be a ballot to ascertain the views of members of the 44 individual dioceses’ local synods or assemblies.

So far, 19 dioceses have voted and all of them have backed the reforms wholeheartedly.

This means that four more ‘yes’ votes would achieve a majority, allowing the proposal to be considered by the General Synod.

Fourteen more dioceses are due to vote this month and if a majority is achieved, final approval could be given in July 2012.

At a private meeting, Dr Williams emphasised the need for bishops to reflect the full human community, and highlighted a trend for some priests to embrace a bureaucratic approach to priesthood instead of a faith-based approach.

It was recently reported that Dr Williams is planning to step down as Archbishop of Canterbury in 2012, after holding the position for 10 years.

Dr Williams plans to take up an academic post at Trinity College, Cambridge.

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