Breakthrough? Church of England moves step closer to women bishops as General Synod backs new proposals

Church governing body votes massively in favour to support their introduction - but with guidance for parishes that reject female ministry

The Church of England's General Synod has voted in favour of proposals for women bishops by a massive majority, paving the way for legislation that could be passed as early as next year.

Members of the Church's governing body voted 378 in favour and eight against, with 25 abstentions, allowing measures for the introduction of women bishops to move on to the next stage in negotiations.

Those in favour of the plans were warned not to “open the champagne bottles” just yet, as there are still “major issues” to be resolved before any practical changes can be set in stone.

The new proposals which were broadly agreed upon today involve a simple piece of legislation that would allow women to become bishops and archbishops, accompanied by a “declaration” by the Church of England setting out guidance for parishes which reject female ministry on traditionalist, ideological grounds.

Today's decision marks a turnaround heralded by one bishop as “nothing short of miraculous”, after exactly one year ago today legislation for women bishops was rejected at the final hurdle by just six votes in the House of Laity.

That decision was described by the Women and the Church campaign group as “a devastating blow for the Church of England and the people of this country”.

While those proposals included a strict and complex “code of practice” for dissenting parishes, the new package lays out plans for an ombudsman, or independent reviewer, that would rule on disputes at a local level.

The vote could pave the way for final approval of women bishops by the General Synod in July next year.

Yet there remains some way to go before legislation can be drafted that appeases both the leading conservative evangelicals on one side and the campaigners on the other, who say any contingency plans - like those for so-called “flying” male bishops - will do no more than create “second-class” women bishops.

“We should not open the champagne bottles or whatever drink we regard as celebratory because we need to agree to work together until the end,” said the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

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'.”

Canon Rosie Harper, from the Oxford Diocese, speaking to the General Synod, said people outside the Church of England viewed a community still arguing over discrimination in the 21st century as “weird”.

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev James Langstaff, briefing journalists afterwards, said: “Although we are hugely encouraged by a vote of 378 in favour and eight against, that is not a cause for complacency.

“There is a lot of work still to be done. People will have voted in favour of this to continue the process who may or may not vote in favour of the package at the end of the day.

“So it is not over and that is a reality.”

Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the progress made today. Speaking in the Commons, he said that he would work with the Church on fast-tracking women's passage to the House of Lords, allowing them a visible presence in Parliament “as soon as possible”.

He said: “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.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?