WOMEN CAN BE BISHOPS; Synod's historic C of E vote.
Byline: JASON BEATTIE Political Editor
THE first women bishops in the Church of England could be appointed by the end of year after a historic vote yesterday.
The Church's General Synod overwhelmingly backed their appointment, ending years of division and debate.
All three sections of the Church voted in favour in York. Bishops supported the proposal by 37 to two with one abstention, the clergy voted 162 clergy to 25 against with four abstentions and lay members backed it by 152 to 45 with five abstentions.
There was clapping and shouts of "brill" in the hall when the result was announced despite an appeal for silence in from the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.
It comes two years after lay members - the laity - blocked the appointment of women by just six votes and more than 20 years after women were allowed to become priests.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg singled out the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, for changing opinions in the Church.
He said: "This is a watershed moment for the Church of England and a huge step forward in making our society fairer. I would like to congratulate the strong leadership that Archbishop Welby has shown on this issue. Allowing women to become bishops is another long overdue step towards gender equality in senior positions."
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "I warmly welcome today's vote formally approving women bishops - a great day for the Church and for equality."
Ed Miliband added: "Wonderful news from York where the Church of England has just voted to allow women bishops for the first time."
Archbishop Welby said he hoped the first women bishops could be ordained by the end of the year.
Speaking at the debate, he had said: "I expect this vote will go through and I rejoice in it. But I also rejoice that we promise to seek the flourishing in the Church of all those who disagree.
"You don't chuck out family or even make it difficult for them to be at home, even when you disagree."
JOY Archbishop Welby, left, and Rev Kat Campion-Spall
BACKING Governors cast votes yesterday