This week's vote by the Church of England to reject the ordination of female bishops was, stripped to the core, reactionary, sexist and out of step with a modern society's ideal of gender equality.
Or, as Diana Johnson, a British Labour MP, observed, the vote belied the notion that institutions, including the Church, should be "led by the very best, not just those who happen to be male".
It is a concept that this newspaper hopes Jamaica's Anglicans - who, a decade and a half ago (five years before the English brethren in the global Anglican Communion), ordained female priests - will, at the earliest opportunity, show progressive leadership.
What happened in England was painful on several levels, not least the narrowness of the vote and where it came from.
Under the Church of England's rules, the vote to carry it required a two-thirds majority in each of the three chambers of the church's tricameral legislature: the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy, and the House of Laity.
The bishops were 94 per cent in favour and 77 per cent of the priests said yes. However, the House of Laity, comprising representatives of regular church members, was short of the two-thirds majority by six votes. Sixty-four per cent voted in favour.
We can hardly believe that the laity's vote represented the position of the estimated 40 per cent of the British population who consider themselves as belonging to the Church of England, or the 1.7 million adherents who attend a church service at least once a month. Or, as Tony Baldry, the Tory MP, who deals with legislative issues in Commons, put it, there must be serious questions of whether those who voted were "sufficiently representative" of the laity.
This reinforcement of the proverbial glass ceiling is seemingly absurd at other levels.
First, it seems to us that there was a significant doctrinal matter at issue here, once the Church of England accepted that women could be ordained as priests and accepted the first of them in the ministry 10 years ago.
FIRST FEMALE BISHOP
Indeed, in the week before the vote, the Anglican Church in southern Africa ordained its first female bishop, 61-year-old Ellinah Nombi Wamukoya, who will oversee the church in Swaziland. The Episcopalians in the United States and Canada have female bishops.
Further, the decision seems to be an institutional breach of Britain's equality laws that, among other things, block discrimination on the basis of gender. Such a breach is compounded by the fact that the Church of England is 'owned' by the State, even if it has quasi-autonomy. In that sense, a state institution is being held hostage by a minority, in flagrant disregard of the laws of the State.
We are not sure what proportion of the four in 10 in England who regard themselves Anglicans are women, but we would cast a bet that it is the majority, as would be the case with the majority of the one million who participate in Sunday services.
We would wager, too, that after more than a century of decline in membership, and a halving in church attendance since the mid-1960s, it is women who have been turning the tide for the Church since the turn of this century. They should make their voices heard.
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