The general Synod has finally passed a resolution to permit women to become bishops of the Anglican church.
After decades of debate, and some 20 years after women were first permitted to be ordained as priests of the church (in my local cathedral here in Bristol), it seems that equality has penetrated the upper echelons of our Established church.
But did they ever consider the most important voice in this matter – the fictional wife of the Bishop of Barchester surely wielded more power behind the throne than any modern bishop could openly exercise today.
Would Mrs Proudie have followed Paul’s letters to the Corinthians which exhorted women to be silent during worship or would she have argued that the self-contradictory references in the letter to Timothy to women being required to keep their heads covered while prophesying and that they must not have authority over men meant that the source was unreliable? All three statements are Biblical and therefore infallible in the Victorian Christian mind. How would Trollope, the arch-conservative Liberal (note capitalisations!) have had her square that circle?
For more detailed consideration of this debate, see Trevor Timpson’s article linked below: