Church of England to discuss female bishops

 

The Church of England will begin a key meeting today to decide whether to give final approval for the first women bishops amid speculation that the historic move could be put on hold.

Members of the General Synod will gather at York University for five days of debates expected to culminate in a knife edge vote on Monday on whether draft legislation to introduce women bishops should clear its final hurdle before it goes to Parliament.

But the decision - the biggest in 20 years by the Church of England - could be postponed following protests from pro-women campaigners over a last-minute amendment to the legislation made by the Church of England bishops earlier this year.

A group of senior women clergy including the four female deans of the Church of England cathedrals and eight archdeacons have written to members of the General Synod asking them to adjourn the debate on final approval and send the amendment back to the bishops for re-consideration.

The dispute centres on complex arrangements to cater for parishes which would reject the authority of a woman bishop. Under draft legislation passed by 42 out of the 44 Church of England dioceses, a woman bishop would refer to a code of practice before delegating authority to a male bishop who would minister to objector parishes.

Senior female clergy and other campaigners have objected to a new clause in the legislation added by the bishops in May which says the code of practice must give guidance that male bishops chosen to minister to traditionalists have views about the ordination of women "consistent with the theological convictions" of objector parishes.

Pro-women campaigners have claimed this would enshrine discrimination against women in law, allowing traditionalists to demand a class of "pedigree" male bishop who have not been "tainted" by having ordained a woman as a priest.

The Rev Rachel Weir, of the group Women and the Church (Watch) called for an adjournment of the debate to allow the bishops to withdraw the controversial amendment.

"Over 4,000 people have already signed Watch's new petition asking for the House of Bishops to withdraw the amendment," she said.

"It is clear that the legislation has lost the support of those who most want women as bishops and has not gained the support of those opposed. The amended legislation is at serious risk of falling if put to a final vote next Monday."

The Rev Paul Dawson, spokesman for the conservative evangelical grouping Reform, said they would be recommending that their members on the General Synod vote against giving final approval of the legislation in spite of the bishops' attempts to meet their concerns.

"The truth is that there would not be a mass walkout of evangelicals (if the legislation is passed)," he said.

"It would be more that the churches like Reform churches would stop encouraging young men into the Church of England ministry rather than lots of people leaving," he said.

"It would be a gradual drying up of this aspect of the life of the Church which we think would be a great sadness and loss because the evangelical end of the Church is where there is a lot of life and growth and youth."

The House of Laity and four Houses of Convocation - made up of the clergy and bishops from the York and Canterbury dioceses - will meet today to decide whether to clear the legislation to go forward for final approval on Monday.

The legislation will need a two-thirds majority in all three Houses of the General Synod, of clergy, laity and bishops, if it is to get final approval.

If the legislation clears the final hurdle at the General Synod on Monday, it will then go for approval in the Houses of Parliament before receiving Royal Assent, paving the way for the first women bishops in 2014.

PA

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?