The Church of England would go through a "substantial period of shock" if its national assembly voted against the introduction of women bishops, the Bishop of Bath and Wells has warned.
Speaking as traditionalists and supporters of women bishops prepare to clash again on the subject, the Rt Rev Peter Price said he does not believe bishops had a "Plan B" if final approval for legislation introducing female bishops is rejected in July.
"I think the implications of this measure going down are so far-reaching that we almost dare not face it," he told a meeting in London of campaigners in favour of women bishops. "I think we will be in such a critical place that it is extremely difficult to see how we will proceed without going through a very substantial period of shock."
The earliest final approval by the General Synod for legislation would be July with the introduction of the first women bishops in 2014. The legislation will need the support of two-thirds of bishops, clergy and laity, in order to gain final approval in July. Anglo-Catholics and conservative evangelicals have threatened to vote against if their demands for safeguards are not met.