Belfast Telegraph

Female bishops decision delights Ulster trailblazer

By Claire Williamson

The first female bishop in Ireland and the UK has said she is "delighted" at the decision to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England.

Just 18 months after a previous attempt was blocked, the General Synod voted on the issue and legislation backing the move was given final approval.

In the historic vote at York University, members of the General Synod voted in favour of a measure allowing women bishops.

The result was welcomed by the Archbisop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

The Rt Rev Pat Storey, who grew up in Belfast, became the first woman bishop in the British Isles last year when she was elected by the Church of Ireland as Bishop of Meath and Kildare in the Republic. The Church approved the appointment of women bishops in 1990.

Bishop Storey said: "I am delighted, especially for women who have been ordained for a long time and in senior positions who will now get what they deserve."

The mother-of-two said she does not agree with those who say the issue is tainted with misogyny.

"Whilst I'm sure for some people there is an element of that, I think people are genuinely trying to wrestle with the scriptures and with theological points of view," she said.

"As a woman myself going into ministry, I had to work through some things about whether women should be ordained and whether women should be bishops. Obviously I did work through those things."

Bishop Storey said the "world just doesn't understand" gender within the church.

"Women are breaking through glass ceilings everywhere else, and I think people find it very difficult that the Church is still wrestling with this," she said. "I think it's up to all of us to show 'good disagreement', which is actually what Justin Welby said after the vote. I think he is absolutely right: we are a family and sometimes families don't agree."

Bishop Storey added: "I think whenever there is another female bishop it will be great.

"But ultimately I think it's the right person for the right job that's important, and we should focus on that.

"It's not just about appointing a female, but appointing the right person to the right post, and I'm sure they will do that."

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