The Church of England voted Tuesday to continue to refuse female bishops. Though the church already allows females to serve as priests, a vote to allow them to start serving as bishops failed to pass the General Synod.
The General Synod is the church's legislative body, and requires measures to win two-thirds majority approval in each of its three houses. In this instance, it passed by large margins in the House of Bishops and the House of Priests. But because the measure was defeated in the House of Laity, it failed to pass, despite the fact that only 122 of 324 total members voted against it.
This has perhaps causes even more controversy in an already hotly debated topic as the Church of England grapples with the question of female leadership and remains sharply divided on the issue, despite many--including retiring Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams--pushing for reform. This measure was viewed as a compromise because it included a clause that would allow leaders to "respect" the position of parishes that oppose female bishops." But according to Rev. Janet Appleby, who helped craft it, that's part of the problem. "The trouble is our disagreement is absolute," she said, explaining the difficulty with compromise on divisive issues.
This vote certainly did not resolve the issue, and if anything served to further divide church leaders. Further negotiation is certain, but church officials say it could take several years for them to vote on it again.