Female bishop vote dismay
A decision by the Church of England's General Synod to block women from becoming bishops has dismayed the Bishop of Bath and Wells.
The Right Reverend Peter Price has been left frustrated by the decision not to pass the Women Bishops Legislation, made last Tuesday, and said: "After 12 years of considerable debate, much listening and a deep desire to find a way forward that we can achieve together, the loss of the motion in one of the three Houses is deeply disappointing."
"Under the requirements of the Synod the legislation required a two–thirds majority in each of the three voting houses for final draft approval.
"While more than two thirds voted for the legislation in both the House of Bishops and the House of Clergy, the vote in favour of the legislation in the House of Laity was less than two-thirds.
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"The vote in the House of Laity fell short of approval by four votes."
While 324 synod members voted for women bishops, church voting rules mean 122 votes against were enough to block it.
Bishop Peter has always spoken openly of his support for women bishops and many expected the Synod to pass the legislation.
In his statement he added: "As a supporter of the ordination of women to the episcopate, I have always sought to have a care for those who do not take the position that I do.
"I believe that the provision they looked for was possible, and along with fellow-bishops committed myself to an inclusive church at every level. I continue to believe that will be achievable."
The Dean of Wells, the Very Reverend John Clarke, who gave a talk on Sunday about the church and sexuality, had written in the November issue of Chapter and Verse, the newsletter for Wells Cathedral, that the church's attitude towards women was looking increasingly out of step, adding: "Women leaders are visible in many walks of life but not as bishops in the Church of England.
"Their absence reduces the diversity of skills available to steer the church in a complex age, and makes the church less credible to many."
The Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Reverend Rowan Williams agreed with these sentiments and has said to the General Synod that the Church could be seen as "wilfully blind" to modern trends and priorities.
Christina Rees, a synod member who has spent 20 years campaigning for women bishops, said: "It feels as if the House of Laity betrayed the entire Church of England."
An emergency meeting was held after the decision by the House of Bishops, because another vote cannot be taken for another five years.
With the retirement of Bishop Peter Price next June, it leaves the position open for another male bishop.