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Archbishop of Canterbury urges General Synod not to stall women bishops plan

Archbishop of Canterbury urges General Synod not to stall women bishops plan
The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the General Synod of the Church of England not to stall the progress of legislation to introduce women bishops.

July 12, 2010

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams Photo: PA

Dr Rowan Williams said the General Synod's failure to back a last-ditch compromise that he and the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu put forard at the weekend was not the "end of the road" in the process.

He said he wanted the General Synod meeting in York to complete its deliberations over women bishops before handing the legislation over for consideration by the Church's dioceses. "It is very tempting at times of stress and difficulty such as we have been through in the last couple of days to think 'drop it into the difficult basket'," he told the General Synod.

"I do not really think that is an option."

Dr Williams' remarks came as the Church's national assembly resumed debates over the introduction of women bishops and how best to cater for objectors.

Anglo-Catholics and conservative evangelicals who object to women bishops have threatened to leave the Church after claiming that current plans do not meet their demands.

But campaigners in favour of women bishops said they were not prepared to make further concessions.

Dr Williams said the House of Bishops of the Church of England would "set in hand" the necessary work involved in producing a code of practice to be ready for debate at the General Synod in 18 months' time.

He said this would be the moment when the legislation entered the "final phase".

"As the votes on Saturday illustrated, we remain as a Synod, it seems, committed by a majority to the desirability of seeing women as bishops for the health and flourishing of the work of God's Kingdom, of this Church and this nation," he said.

"We are also profoundly committed by a majority in the Synod to a maximum generosity that can be consistently and coherently exercised towards the consciences of minorities and we have not yet cracked how to do that."

More than 5,000 women have been ordained as priests in the Church of England since 1994 and the number of women training for the ministry is increasing.

If the legislation is cleared this week a majority of the diocesan synods of the Church of England will have to approve the legislation and there would then be further consideration by the General Synod in 2012.

The final stages would require a two-thirds majority in each of the three Houses of the General Synod - of bishops, clergy and laity.

The earliest possible date for a woman bishop to be appointed would be 2014.


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