Despite haranguing from angry traditionalists who believe that women should be kept out of the upper levels of Anglican hierarchy, the governing body of the British Anglican church voted to approve women as bishops last night. According to the New York Times, the traditionalists are so incensed at the rise of women - as well as gays - in the Anglican Church that they're threatening a schism. Their reasoning against the idea of female bishops is that the 12 apostles of Jesus were men, so "[Jesus] intended that men alone should have the responsibility of ministering to his followers." (Their opposition to gays seems to stem from plain old prejudice.) The American, Canadian and Australian branches of the Anglican Church have allowed female bishops for years now, but according to the Times, "conservatives, mainly from Africa…oppose the ordination of gay priests and bishops, and the appointment of women as priests and bishops."
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams (pictured at left with the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu), who leads the Anglican communion, is trying to prevent the conservative factions of the church from defecting to Catholicism. However, the governing body of the Church voted down conservative demands of "superbishops" who would "oversee parishes opposed to women bishops," according to the Guardian. The conservatives voted to create their own body last week in Jerusalem, but Rowan Williams dismissed them "saying that the new body has no legal standing and challenges Christian teachings of tolerance," the Times notes.
Threats of the schism remain, and could likely be decided next month at the Lambeth Conference, a once-a-decade meeting of Anglican bishops from around the world. It's unclear what will go down at Lambeth, and though haters abound, it's nice to know that the man in charge of the Church has his head on straight when it comes to making the truly Christian decision.