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
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
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

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn