The Church of England Synod debates today whether there should be women bishops. The new Archbishop has put his support behind the idea, despite the fact that he is an evangelical, a grouping which tends not to favour women bishops. It is the first test of his mettle, before he has even taken office.
Logic says that if a woman can be a priest (approved nearly 20 years ago) she can be a bishop. The problem is that there is a sizeable minority which believes a woman can't be a priest. This is less than it was, because some have gone over to Rome, but it is large and vocal. This minority says that since a bishop can appoint priests there would be male priests whom they didn't recognise, because they were appointed by a bishop they didn't recognise. If women bishops are allowed this could get murkier: each priest would have to carry his genealogy of appointment around with him. There has to be some get out for the genuine doubters, but it can't last forever.
The Synod is divided into three houses: the professional ones, the House of Bishops and the House of Clergy, are solidly in favour. The vote would need a two thirds majority, however, in the House of Laity, which is less so.
For myself I had doubts about whether a woman can become a priest, but believe the game was lost 20 years ago. The Church of England needs to approve this and move on to more important topics, like spreading Christianity and holding the Anglican Communion together.
I wish Archbishop elect Welby luck. I think they'll pass it, though.