The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to reassure other Churches that the Church of England is continuing on its "quest" for unity after concern and dismay was expressed about the decision to ordain women bishops.
Archbishop Justin Welby said Churches "need each other". He said that the vote at General Synod last week was an "occasion of deep rejoicing for many", although "a source of disappointment and concern" for others.
He acknowledged that while some Anglican Churches would welcome the result of the vote, “we are also aware that our other ecumenical partners may find this a further difficulty on the journey towards full communion" and that dialogue now faced "new challenges".
But Welby emphasised that with “so much troubling our world today”, common witness to the Gospel was of greater importance than ever.
Catholic Archbishop Bernard Longley, chairman of the international Anglican-Catholic dialogue body Arcic, said last week that the decision "sadly places a further obstacle" on the path to unity, but added that the bishops were still committed to ecumenical dialogue.
The Russian Orthodox Church’s department for external relations said it was "alarmed and disappointed" by the vote. "The decision to ordain women, which the Church of England took in 1992, damaged the relationships between our Churches, and the introduction of female bishops has eliminated even a theoretical possibility for the Orthodox to recognise the existence of apostolic succession in the Anglican hierarchy."
Canon Simon Killwick, chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod, said that while he was pleased with the provision that would be made for Anglicans who cannot accept women bishops, “we are deeply concerned about the consequences for the wider unity of the whole Church”. He added: “We remain committed to working together with all in the Church of England to further the mission of the Church to the nation, and to model a way of living and working together despite deeply held differences.”