The Church of England is poised to formally adopt legislation that would see its first female bishops ordained next year.
The general synod voted to back plans for female bishops in July.
The first women priests were ordained in 1994, but to date they have not been able to take on the Church’s most senior roles.
The move is expected to attract further rifts between the liberal progressives, mostly in the West, and the traditionalists, who make up a majority in developing countries.
A prior move to allow women to stand as bishops was defeated in 2012 by six votes cast by lay members of the general synod, the law-making body of the Church of England.
Changing the culture
The vote on Monday at the general synod meeting at Church House in Westminster in England will give the final seal of approval to the legislation, following its passage through Parliament in October.
The decision has been welcomed by long-term campaigners for change, who see it as step towards widening female participation in the Church.
The Very Reverend Jane Hedges, the first female dean of Norwich, said she had previously thought she would not have seen it happen until after her retirement.
She said she thought “people were surprised at how quickly women were accepted as priests” but added the road to them becoming bishops had in some ways taken longer.
- 1978: A motion to remove the barriers to the women’s ordination as priests fails at General Synod.
- 1985: The general synod votes to allow women to become deacons.
- 1987: The first female deacons are ordained in the Church of England.
- 1992: The general synod votes to permit women to be ordained in the priesthood.
- 1994: 1,500 female deacons are ordained as priests.
- 2005: A motion to remove the legal obstacles to women as bishops is approved by the general synod.
- 2012: The legislation is rejected at the general synod by just six votes in the House of Laity.
- 2014: The general synod votes for legislation introducing women bishops.