Pope Francis and Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby met twice this week in Rome for symbol-laden encounters.
The Church of England announced on Wednesday that Libby Lane, a parish priest from Hale, a small village outside Manchester, would become its first woman bishop, ending centuries of all-male leadership in this country's established church.
The announcement from Downing Street, the prime minister's official residence in London, came just a month after changes to canon law making it possible for women to assume the role of suffragan and diocesan bishops.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said strong disagreements on the ordination of women as bishops and full rights for LGBT people are threatening to tear the church apart.
The Church of England's vote to allow female bishops threatens unity with the Catholic church, according to the editor of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.
Giovanni Maria Vian, who is also a Rome historian, on Tuesday said the decision would have "an extremely negative impact" on steps to bring the churches closer together despite a positive meeting between Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis a month ago.
Women's rights activists greeted with delight signs the Church of England is poised to relent and allow women to be consecrated as bishops.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will preside over a historic General Synod meeting at the University of York when a make-or-break vote on the subject is expected Monday.
"I think we're there at long last," American-born Christina Rees, one of the church's leading women's rights campaigners, said in an interview Thursday.