The Church of England voted on Monday evening to move ahead with the ordination of women as bishops. The outcome of the vote prompted the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity to say that the decision is a “break with apostolic tradition” and a “further obstacle” to any efforts at dialogue between the two churches.
Following six hours of heated debate by the General Synod at the University of York, the majority of the bishops, clergy and laity voting blocks cast their ballots in favor of allowing women to be ordained to the episcopate. Bishops voted to approve ordaining women bishops by 28 to 12, clergy assented by 124 to 44 and lay people by 111 to 68.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity reacted to the decision, saying, "We have regretfully learned the news of the Church of England vote that paves the way for the introduction of legislation which will lead to the ordaining of women to the episcopacy.”
Listing its objections to the admittance of women, the council said, "The Catholic position on the issue has been clearly expressed by Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. Such a decision signifies a break with the apostolic tradition maintained by all of the Churches since the first millennium and is, therefore, a further obstacle to reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Church of England.”
Although the Vatican has maintained an ongoing dialogue with the Church of England, it said that, "This decision will have consequences on the future of dialogue, which had up until now borne fruit, as Cardinal Kasper clearly explained when on June 5, 2006 he spoke to all of the bishops of the Church of England at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
Other signs of discord were also seen within the Anglican Communion as 1,300 clergy threatened to quit if the church decided to ordain women bishops and several British newspapers reported that some Anglican bishops were in talks with Rome to discuss joining the Catholic Church.
Some aspects of the Anglican’s General Synod vote also irked more traditional members who were calling for the creation of new dioceses for parishes and clergy opposed to women bishops.
Instead of erecting new dioceses, the Synod voted to approve the crafting of a statutory national code of practice to accommodate parishes and clergy who object to women bishops on grounds of conscience.