Church of England Picks Woman to Be Bishop ; Reversing Centuries of Canon Law, the Move Is Likely to Deepen a Divide

By Cowell, Alan | International New York Times, December 19, 2014 | Go to article overview

Church of England Picks Woman to Be Bishop ; Reversing Centuries of Canon Law, the Move Is Likely to Deepen a Divide


Cowell, Alan, International New York Times


The Rev. Libby Lane described herself as "grateful for, though somewhat daunted by" the appointment.

The Church of England has named the Rev. Libby Lane, a parish priest for 20 years in the north of England, as its first female bishop, just weeks after the church authorities took the final step to reverse centuries of canon law to begin what the archbishop of Canterbury called "a completely new phase of our existence."

Ms. Lane, 48, will be consecrated on Jan. 26, the Church of England said on its website Wednesday. She described herself as "grateful for, though somewhat daunted by," the appointment. "This is unexpected and very exciting," she said in a statement on the website. "On this historic day, as the Church of England announces the first woman nominated to be bishop, I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment. But most of all, I am thankful to God."

Ms. Lane is to become the bishop of Stockport, in northwest England, a position that lacks the status of a full, diocesan bishop but nonetheless represents a historic shift roughly 20 years after the Church of England first ordained female priests. Technically, she will be an assistant in the Diocese of Chester. The tradition of all-male bishops dates to the Church of England's break with Rome five centuries ago, in the days of King Henry VIII.

Ms. Lane's husband, George, is also a priest, and they were one of the first married couples in the Church of England to be ordained together, the church said. "Her interests include being a school governor, encouraging social action initiatives, learning to play the saxophone, supporting Manchester United, reading and doing cryptic crosswords," the church added in a brief biography on its website.

Ms. Lane is one of eight female clerics who have held observer status in the church's House of Bishops.

The halting process toward her consecration reflected deep divisions between liberals and conservatives that are likely to be cemented rather than resolved by the move. …

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