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South African woman bishop preaches at Southwark Cathedral

London SE1 website team

"I pray that where Africa leads, England will follow," a South African woman bishop told the congregation of Southwark Cathedral on Sunday morning.

Margaret Vertue and Andrew Nunn
Rt Revd Margaret Vertue with Very Revd Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark

The Rt Revd Margaret Vertue, Bishop of False Bay, received a round of applause for her remarks during her sermon at the cathedral's Choral Eucharist.

The bishop's visit to London comes as the Church of England continues a slow journey towards the appointment of women to the episcopate.

Although the church's General Synod has already agreed in principle that women can become bishops, last November legislation to make it possible narrowly failed to achieve the required majority.

Many of the other provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion already have female bishops.

Bishop Margaret is one of only two female Anglican bishops in the African continent. She was ordained priest in 1992 by Desmond Tutu, then Archbishop of Cape Town.

In her sermon she said of South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela who is currently in hospital: "He has been such a statesman the country is already in grief as we know that this man is nearing the end of his life."

The bishop wore a mitre (bishop's hat) and cope to process in to the cathedral on Sunday morning.

It is exactly three years since a controversy dubbed 'mitregate' erupted when the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America, the Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori, was prohibited by Lambeth Palace from wearing a mitre when she visited Southwark Cathedral.

Hear the bishop's sermon in full.

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