Church Of England Backs Women Bishops Move

November 20, 2013 3:22 PM

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Female bishops could be given final approval next year after a vote described as "miraculous" by one senior figure in the church.

The Church of England General Synod has backed proposals that could see women bishops given final approval by 2014.

Members of the Synod voted 378 in favour and eight against with 25 abstentions.

The endorsement came alongside a "declaration" by the Church of England bishops setting out guidance for those parishes that reject female ministry.

The new package received widespread support across the General Synod from both opponents and supporters of women bishops and the vote could pave the way for final approval of women bishops by the General Synod in July next year.

Several General Synod members spoke of the marked improvement in the atmosphere since the collapse of the legislation last year.

The Rt Rev Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, said: "From where we are today, compared to where we were a year ago, it is, as someone said to me the other day, 'nothing short of miraculous'."

The Rev Rod Thomas, chairman of Reform, the conservative evangelical grouping, and a member of the steering committee which drew up the proposals, paid tribute to the "generosity of spirit" which had led to the package.

But he and other leading conservative evangelicals said there still remained "major issues" to be resolved - prompting the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu to warn against "opening the champagne" yet.

The new set of proposals would include an ombudsman, or independent reviewer, to rule on disputes over arrangements for traditionalists who will not accept the authority of a woman.

Clergy who failed to co-operate with the ombudsman's inquiries could be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

The move follows bitter recriminations within the Church of England after the legislation failed by just six votes to get approval at the General Synod a year ago.

Prime Minister David Cameron has suggested the first women bishops in the Church of England could be fast-tracked into the House of Lords.

"I strongly support women bishops and I hope the Church of England takes this key step to ensure its place as a modern church, in touch with our society," he said at Prime Minister's Questions.


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