Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Newsround at 5pm yesterday began with a report about women's equality and the Church of England -

Ricky: First - should women be allowed to become bishops? That's what the Church of England is set to decide within the next hour.

Nel: At the moment women are only allowed to be priests, and there's been a big debate about whether they should be able to take the next step up. Well, I've been looking at both sides of the argument.

(Nel's video report)

Nel: Throughout history women have had to fight to be seen as equal to men. Because of that we can now vote - join the army - we can even be prime minister. One thing women still can't do in England is be a bishop. Well, that all could change today as the leaders of the Church of England vote on the issue. It's 20 years since women were allowed to become priests, and some say there's no reason they shouldn't be allowed to take up the next step.

Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin: We've got a lot of young women growing up in the Church. The message we're giving to them is: we only want you to prepare the altar, put the flowers on, make the tea, clean the church - but that's all you're good for. That is an unacceptable message.

Nel: But many in the Church disagree over the issue.

Nel: Why can't a woman be a bishop or a priest?

Father Paul Plumpton: I believe that a woman can no more be a priest than I can be a mother. It really is as basic to nature and the way God has ordered things as that.

Nel: But they are allowed to become priests at the moment. So what's the problem with that?

Father Paul Plumpton: Not only do we not believe that women can be ordained as priests - or at least we have grave doubts about it - we must have equally grave doubts that they can be bishops.

Nel: Here's how it works. The Church of England has The Queen as its head. It's split into different areas, known as dioceses. Each area is run by a bishop, who's in charge of the priests. The Church of England is part of a wider community - the Anglican Church - which has tens of millions of followers worldwide.

Nel: It may seem surprising that when it comes to being a bishop, men and women are still not seen as equals. But the Church of England is considered to be way ahead of other religions when it comes to giving women more power. If the vote goes through today, it could mean that we see female bishops by 2014.

Newsround bulletin last night at 6.55pm carried the Synod decision -

Ricky: First up - in the last hour, leaders of the Church of England have voted against allowing women to become bishops. The decision has come after a day of debating about the issue. Campaigners needed to win two-thirds of votes, but failed to do that. It's 20 years since women were allowed to become priests, and could be years before they can vote to become bishops again.

The aftermath of yesterday's decision was reported on most of today's' Newsround TV bulletins, where the disappointment of many was made clear. Two of the morning bulletins included a clip of Revd Rachel Weir, who said they'd been campaigning for 15 years. She said there was something badly wrong in the Church of England, because it can't deliver after all this time.

This afternoon Newsround reported that most of the bishops and priests wanted the changes to happen. Newsround reported David Cameron as saying he's sad the Church of England voted not to allow women to become bishops. The 5pm bulletin also included the following clip of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, telling the Synod that the Church risked looking out of touch with modern life -

Rowan Williams: It seems as if we are willfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of that wider society. We have some explaining to do. We have, as a result of yesterday, undoubtedly lost a measure of credibility in our society.

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