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Archbishop of Canterbury hopes approval of female bishops will not block ecumenical progress

July 18, 2014

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the other Christian leaders, saying that he hopes ecumenical progress can continue after the decision of the Church of England ordain women as bishops.

Dr. Justin Welby acknowledges that some “ecumenical partners may find this a further difficulty on the journey towards full communion.” But he observes that a shared Christian faith provides “much that unites us,” and argues that there is “so much troubling our world today that our common witness to the Gospel is of more importance than ever.”

In his letter the Anglican primate explains the drive to approve the appointment of female bishops, and says that although the Church of England has now settled the question, efforts will be made to accommodate those who cannot accept the outcome.

In a reference to the difficulties the decision will cause for ecumenical dialogue with the Catholic and Orthodox churches, Dr. Welby is non-committal, saying :

Since it continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops, the Church of England acknowledges that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God.


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  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jul. 20, 2014 11:08 AM ET USA

    This is like hoping exposure in the papers of your recent arrest for shoplifting doesn't spoil your chances of being elected sheriff next November. After all, "we all share residence in the same town!"

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 19, 2014 8:59 AM ET USA

    It remanins to be seen what reforms if any will be introduced as the Church deals with the disappointing survery results and pressures to make changes for the Catholic clergy. The word is that ecumenism moves ever forward, progress is being made all the time. It's very doubtful that this will be much more than a blip on the radar so to speak. It's also likely that an assertion will be made that there is something of value that all parties can take away from this decision, and experience growth.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Jul. 18, 2014 5:27 PM ET USA

    Anglican bishops are bishops only in title anyway, since they do not validly have the sacrament of Holy Orders. The ongoing redefinition of priesthood in the Anglican communion is an obvious block to any type of full reunion with the Catholic Church.