House of Bishops (Church of England)

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The House of Bishops is the upper house of the tricameral Church of England General Synod legislature. It consists of all 42 Diocesan Bishops of the Church of England's Provinces of Canterbury and York as well as nine elected suffragan bishops. This is not to be confused with the Lords Spiritual, the most senior bishops in the Church of England sitting in the House of Lords ex officio.[1]

Duties and membership

The House of Bishops hold veto power in the General Synod along with the House of Clergy and the House of Laity. An example of this was when they vetoed a proposal allowing same-sex couples to receive blessings in Church of England parish churches.[2] The House of Bishops also have distinct responsibilities in the General Synod. The House of Bishops meets twice in between Synod sessions.[3] Any measure affecting Church of England services or administration of the sacraments also require final approval from the House of Bishops in addition to passing through the usual General Synod legislative procedure.[4]

The House of Bishops' membership comprises all 42 of the Church of England's diocesan bishops, including the extraprovincial Bishop of Sodor and Man and Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe. Suffragan bishops are also represented via the Bishop of Dover, acting as episcopal oversight on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Diocese of Canterbury, the Bishop to the Forces[5] and nine suffragan bishops elected by their fellow suffragan bishops.[6]

In 2013, it was announced that eight female clergy would be elected regionally to take part in the House of Bishops' meetings as participant observers ahead of legislation to allow women bishops.[7] These participant observers would remain a part of the House of Bishops until the House gained at least six female members.[8] Six elected female suffragan bishops and the four Provincial Episcopal Visitors are entitled to attend and speak but not vote (as of 2018, several female suffrragan bishops and the Bishop of Beverley are elected members of the House who can vote).[9]

Bishops may hold their seat until they reach the age of 70, when they are obliged to step down as that is the retirement age for Church of England bishops.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b Lewis-Jones, Janet (1999). "Reforming the Lords: the Role of the Bishops" (PDF). University College London. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  2. ^ Butt, Riazat. "Church of England vetoes services of blessing for same-sex couples". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  3. ^ "Participating observers in the House of Bishops". NADAWM. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  4. ^ Hall, Christine (1992). The Deacon's Ministry. Gracewing Publishing. p. 132. ISBN 0852441827.
  5. ^ "General Synod Archives". Thinking Anglicans. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  6. ^ Council for Christian Unity (2000). Bishops in Communion: Collegiality in the Service of the Koinonia of the Church. Church House Publishing. p. 41. ISBN 0715157590.
  7. ^ Bingham, John. "Church of England to give women clerics 'observer' status in House of Bishops". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  8. ^ Davies, Madeline (2013-02-07). "Women dignitaries to be elected as Bishops' "participant observers"". Church Times. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  9. ^ Bishops' information: House and College of Bishops, The Church of England
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