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Australia appoints woman bishop

Kay Goldsworthy (file photo)
Bishop Goldsworthy says she first felt a call to serve the church aged 16

Australia's first woman bishop, Kay Goldsworthy, has been consecrated in St George's Cathedral in Perth.

The move has been welcomed by Australia's sex discrimination commissioner as a turning point for the church and the nation.

But a minority of Australian Anglicans, angered by the appointment, have warned that it will split the church.

Women have been serving as Anglican bishops in the US since 1989, but many other countries find the idea divisive.

Twenty-one Anglican bishops from Australia and New Zealand were among a congregation of more than 800 to show their support for Kay Goldsworthy's controversial appointment.

Opponents of the ordination of women, including the head of the Sydney diocese, Archbishop Peter Jensen, did not attend the ceremony.

I've travelled a path where there's always been someone or some group that doesn't agree or doesn't want to receive your ministry
Kay Goldsworthy

The Bishop of Northwest Australia, David Mulready, was also absent from the service.

Bishop Mulready has said he will not permit Bishop Goldsworthy to officiate in his diocese.

Australia's Anglican bishops have agreed that parishes that cannot in good conscience recognise the ministry of a woman bishop will be offered the services of a male bishop.

Australia's federal sex discrimination commissioner has described Bishop Goldsworthy's appointment as a "turning point for the church and the nation as a whole," and placed it alongside other recent "feminist firsts".

The BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney says that women in Australia still find it difficult to penetrate the upper echelons of politics, business and society.

Bishop Goldsworthy, 51, is married and has two sons. She has said she is unlikely to feel offended by parishes not accepting her ministry, having faced criticism over the years.

"I've travelled a path where there's always been someone or some group that doesn't agree or doesn't want to receive your ministry, so I won't feel slighted," she said last month.


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