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Church of England gives go ahead for women bishops

LONDON, July 8 (RIA Novosti) - The Church of England's governing body has voted in favor of the ordination of women bishops, with over 1,000 members threatening to leave the Church over the issue.

All three houses of the General Synod, the Church's ruling body, passed the motion late on Monday, rejecting concessions to pacify traditionalists unable to accept the idea of female bishops.

Despite the threat of a schism, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, told the Synod he was "committed to the ordination of women," adding that it would be humiliating for the Church if women were refused.

The issue has threatened to split the Church, which has been dogged by threats of a mass walk out by conservatives opposed to gay clergy and blessings for same-sex relationships.

The Church will now draw up legislation, which will require the further approval of the Church Synod, but it is hoped that the first female bishop could be ordained after 2012.

Women were first allowed into the 450-year-old Church of England as priests in 1994 and it is estimated that one in six serving priests are now female.

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