Church of England finally moves in to the 21st century and ordains a female Bishop

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The Reverend Libby Lane, 48, has been ordained as the new Bishop of Stockport in front of more than 1,000 people.

The Church formally adopted legislation last November to allow women bishops, in a move which ended a centuries-old tradition of exclusively male bishops.

The move continues to divide some Anglicans. The service was briefly delayed by an opponent of the changes.

A man interrupts the ordination of Libby Lane as bishop, calling it an “absolute impediment” The opponent, a man, stepped forward shouting “not in the Bible” after the Archbishop of York asked the church if the Reverend Lane should be ordained as a bishop.

The second time Dr John Sentamu asked the congregation, there was no opposition and the consecration, or the process of being made holy, took place. The service was led by Dr Sentamu, during which he and other bishops laid their hands on Mrs Lane and prayed. This was followed by lengthy applause.

Mrs Lane has been vicar of St Peter’s Hale and St Elizabeth’s Ashley, in Greater Manchester, since April 2007.

Straddling metropolitan Manchester and leafy Cheshire, Stockport has often been in the shadow of its two neighbours, but now it has its own claim to fame with England’s first female Bishop, perhaps the first of many.

Don’t expect a sudden rush of new women bishops, though. The Church is a slow-moving edifice. It took many years of argument to bring itself to this point, and many who opposed the move are bewildered and unhappy.

They will not be celebrating today so senior clergy who back women bishops are anxious not to rock the boat so much that it starts taking on water. A small number of clergy and lay people already left to join the Catholic Church in 2011 over this issue.

More departures for Rome are unlikely, but the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are aware that while Anglicanism is a broad church, so to speak – they need to keep paddling hard to keep all its members on board

Mrs Lane had said the consecration would be a very “emotional” moment. She said: “It is a remarkable thing that this happens to me, and people have been very supportive of me personally, but actually this is about a moment in the Church’s history.”

It would be “a very profound, remarkable moment for me then and for my future ministry”, she said. Mrs Lane said more than 100 bishops were travelling to York for the service.

NB Although I am an agnostic, I think it is important for those who do have belief to operate inside a church that equally recognises men and women and creates opportunities for both to progress to the highest office. All we need now is for the Roman Catholic church to move in the same direction and drag Islam from the 7th to the 21st century, albeit kicking and screaming…………….but don’t hold your breath!

 

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