Church of England appoints first ever female bishop

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Church of England has announced the name of its first ever female bishop as Reverend Libby Lane.

The appointment comes just a month after the church officially enacted a change to canon law to allow women to serve as bishops.

Reverend Lane becomes the new Bishop of Stockport, it was announced today. She was previously a vicar at St Peter’s Hale and St Elizabeth’s Ashley in Cheshire since April 2007.

The General Synod of the church in August voted to allow female bishops. Despite steps forward there are still no openly gay bishops in the UK.
Legislation to fast-track female bishops into the House of Lords is expected to be introduced on Thursday. Despite this, because the position of Bishop of Stockport is junior, Reverend Lane will not sit in the House of Lords.

Many have hailed the decision to allow women to serve as bishops as a step forward for the Church of England in terms of equality, however the Church still bans its gay clergy from marrying. A ban on the Church of England performing same-sex weddings, in the from of the “quadruple lock”, is also written into legislation to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Earlier this year the House of Bishops banned gay clergy from marrying, writing that it is “clearly at odds” with religious instruction and that clergy members should “exemplify in their life the teachings of the Church”.

Hospital chaplain Jeremy Pemberton flouted the ban to marry his same-sex partner in April, and was later stripped of his Permission to Officiate by the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Richard Inwood, preventing him from taking up another NHS job.

The Pilling Report on Human Sexuality commissioned by the Church of England last year recommended that blessings for same-sex marriages be allowed, though the church has not implemented its findings.

The Bishop of Buckingham made an address at the PinkNews Awards, saying he was “ashamed” at the way gay people have been treated by the Church of England.

It was earlier this year reported that the Dean of St Albans, Dr Jeffrey John, who is the Church of England’s most senior out cleric, had been shortlisted to become a Diocesan Bishop.