Last Sunday, the 2014 Fifa World Cup ended, with Germany coming top, followed by Argentina, the Netherlands and the host nation Brazil. As it has been pointed out, three of the top four nations – the Netherlands being the exception – are led by women. The world, someone commented on social media, is changing. The next day, the world received further evidence of this “change”, when the Church of England synod voted to allow the appointment of female bishops.
Since the church has female priests, women bishops may not appear to be such a big deal. Yet, as the Archbishop of York, the Ugandan-born Dr John Sentamu, inferred, the synod’s decision ends centuries of institutionalised discrimination against half of humanity.
Sentamu said: “Generations of women have served the Lord faithfully in the Church of England for centuries. It is a moment of joy the office of bishop is open to them.”
The Anglican communion has presence in some 160 countries, Uganda inclusive, and it is hoped that the decision of the synod in England will inspire similar steps elsewhere. Obviously, the different Anglican jurisdictions will handle this issue in their own way, but there is no escaping the inherent segregation in locking women out of certain ecclesiastical offices – just because they are women.
Given the high regard in which the church is held in many developing countries, an upsurge in the number of women bishops in our countries could be a major boost to the gender equality movement. And because women constitute half of humanity, any development that could significantly inspire girls and young women to realize their full potential is laudable.
Before announcing the result of the voting, Archbishop Sentamu urged the faithful to accept the results with restraint. This was in apparent recognition of the fact that many educated men and women today are yet to embrace the notion of ecclesiastical gender equality.
But these lay and church leaders must face up to questions such as this: If Christian women can ably be presidents and heads of government if these women can be able priests, what right has history and tradition to block them from becoming bishops?
Source : The Observer