Anglicans reject women bishops

November 22, 2012

The Church of England held an emergency session yesterday after a vote rejecting the appointment of women bishops that exposed bitter divisions in the worldwide Anglican communion.

The meeting of senior bishops in London came a day after the General Synod, the church's governing body, narrowly voted against the move following years of wrangling between traditionalists and liberals.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu said there would be women bishops "in my lifetime," but added that the church needed to find legislation to push through what would be its biggest change since allowing female priests 20 years ago.

The church will in theory not be able to even discuss the plans again for years - but a group of core bishops could give special permission to revive them as early as February. "The principle has already been accepted by the General Synod. It has already been accepted by all the dioceses," Sentamu told BBC radio.

"So what we need to do is find the legislation - 99.9 percent of the legislation is there - it's this little business of provision for those who are opposed."

Outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams - the spiritual head of around 80 million Anglicans around the world, who had strongly backed the introduction of women bishops - was due to give a speech after yesterday's meeting.

The vote was one final setback for liberal theologian Williams, who steps down in December after 10 years of battles to keep the church's various factions united.

The result also appears to strike at the authority of his successor Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham, a former oil company executive who was named just weeks ago.

Welby tweeted: "Very grim day, most of all for women priests and supporters, need to surround all with prayer & love and cooperate with our healing God."

The legislation needed a two-thirds majority among each of the three houses in the 470-member General Synod but fell short by just six voters among ordinary lay members of the church.

Conservatives in the church welcomed the result, which they said would have avoided further splits between the Church of England and evangelical elements of the Anglican communion, especially those in Africa.


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