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Church of England synod rejects ‘compromise’ over female bishops


Lucy Miller
WVoN co-editor

The Church of England’s General Synod is once again under pressure over the question of female bishops, after rejecting the ‘compromise’ amendment put forward by the Manchester Diocesan Synod yesterday.

The amendment was an attempt to further allay the concerns of those opposed to the appointment of female bishops in traditionalist parishes. Those in support of equality in the church said that, if passed, it would turn women into ‘second class’ citizens within their jobs.

The motion proposed by the Manchester Synod would have increased the authority given to alternative male bishops in the most conservative parishes, giving them “co-ordinate jurisdiction” roles, with authority to intervene.

The powers would be different to those envisioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, which give traditionalists the right to access a male bishop – but intervention would be at the discretion of the female bishop.

While rejecting the concessions to traditionalists yesterday, the General Synod did agree to back possible further amendments.

A final vote on female bishops will be held by the General Synod in July at the earliest. A two thirds majority would be needed for it to progress to Westminster for full approval.

The question of whether women should be given the authority to become bishops is one that has split the Church of England for years. Many traditionalists oppose female bishops on the grounds that, in the Bible, the head of the church is synonymous with the ‘head’ of the house.

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Right Reverend Peter Price, warned that there was no backup plan if the compromise was not accepted – and that the church would be left in ‘shock’.

It seems though that no one was satisfied with the proposal:

“They produced a code for two bishops to work together, neither of whom believes in principle in what they are called to do – one to receive delegation from a person they might not regard in Episcopal orders, the other to give delegation to which they in principle object,” said Canon Chris Sugden, of the orthodox Anglican Mainstream.

The lobby group Women and the Church have stated their opposition to further amendments which would see women as second class bishops.

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