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Welsh Anglicans pass women bishops, put pressure on England

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A car sticker advocating female bishops pictured outside Church House in central London on November 19, 2012.AFP/File

Women will be allowed to become bishops in Anglican churches in Wales following a vote on Thursday, a decision that puts pressure on the Church of England which has rejected such a move.

Campaigners called the move long overdue, arguing the exclusion of women from the top roles made the church less relevant in the modern world.

The decision will increase pressure on their English counterparts to follow suit, given that Scotland and Northern Ireland already allow female bishops.

The issue is due to be discussed again in England in November.

Members of the Church in Wales' 144-strong governing body voted through the proposals at a meeting in Lampeter in west Wales.

The votes needed a two-thirds majority from three of the Church in Wales' "houses" - Laity, Clergy and Bishops.

Laity voted 57 for and 14 against, with Clergy backing the move 37 to 10.

Bishops were unanimously in favour of the plan.

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said it made "no theological sense" not to ordain women as bishops when the church already ordained them as deacons and priests.

It was the second time in five years that the Church in Wales had faced the issue -- a previous proposal was defeated in 2008 by just three votes.

Canon Patrick Thomas of Christ Church, Carmarthen, said: "I'm happy with Bishop Wyn but would be just as happy with Bishop Wynona."

Nigel King, stewardship officer for the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, added: "Do we really care whether the bishop has external or internal plumbing?"

The Church of England's general synod rejected women bishops in November last year, prompting campaigners to describe it as "a devastating blow" for the Church.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has admitted that more work needs to be done before a move to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England can pass its first hurdle.