Belief Beat

The Church of England, the home base of the global Anglican Communion, has moved closer to approving female bishops, more than 30 years after its U.S. Episcopal Church began ordaining women. (The CoE began ordaining women priests in 1994; Anglican churches in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Cuba already have women bishops.)

The million-member question: will traditionalists now break away and form their own body, as Episcopalians opposed to gay clergy have done in the United States in recent years, or take Pope Benedict up on his offer to welcome them to Catholicism while allowing them to maintain some of their Anglican traditions?

About 100 married Episcopal priests have become Catholics since the U.S. church began ordaining women. Meanwhile, many more Catholic priests have become Protestants in order to marry, cradles Catholics have become evangelical or Orthodox Christians in response to clergy sex abuse or seeking a different kind of worship experience, Orthodox Christians have split on calendar and authority issues, etc. And, there’s the folks who leave Christianity entirely, due to interfaith marriage — Chelsea Clinton might be converting to Judaism, prompting a lot of blogosphere buzz — or other reasons. (Note to Stephen Prothero: God is either one, many or irrelevant.)

For more on the Church of England story, check out these links, and share your thoughts in the Comments section below.


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