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Women Bishops - Statement from Archbishop Bernard Longley

In the light of the vote of the General Synod of the Church of England on Monday 14 July, regarding the ordination of women as bishops, the Most Rev. Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham and head of the Department of Christian Dialogue and Unity at the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has issued the following statement which has the support and approval of Cardinal Vincent in his capacity as President of the Bishops’ Conference.


The Catholic Church remains fully committed to its dialogue with the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. For the Catholic Church, the goal of ecumenical dialogue continues to be full visible ecclesial communion. 

Such full ecclesial communion embraces full communion in the episcopal office. The decision of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate therefore sadly places a further obstacle on the path to this unity between us. Nevertheless we are committed to continuing our ecumenical dialogue, seeking deeper mutual understanding and practical cooperation wherever possible.    

We note and appreciate the arrangement of pastoral provision, incorporated into the House of Bishops’ Declaration and the amending Canon passed by the General Synod, for those members of the Church of England who continue to hold to the historic understanding of the episcopate shared by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

At this difficult moment we affirm again the significant ecumenical progress which has been made in the decades since the Second Vatican Council and the development of firm and lasting friendships between our communities. We rejoice in these bonds of affection and will do all we can to strengthen them and seek together to witness to the Gospel in our society.     

Archbishop Bernard Longley

Chairman of the Department for Dialogue and Unity

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales