In major step toward change, Church of England dioceses approve female bishops

The Church of England says all its dioceses have voted to let women serve as bishops, leaving just one major hurdle to changing centuries of church practice.

The issue has long divided the Anglican Communion, a Christian denomination with more than 80 million adherents worldwide.

Anglican churches in Australia, New Zealand and the United States already have women serving as bishops.

The Church of England has grappled for years with whether to admit women to the hierarchy. The church's governing General Synod voted in February to send draft legislation allowing female bishops to its 44 dioceses. The church said Friday that all had voted in favor, with Manchester, the last to do so, deciding Thursday.

The legislation will now go back to the Synod in July for a final vote.