Women bishops debate: the issues
The Church of England is taking a fresh look at proposals for legislation allowing women to become bishops, with some predicting that the decades-old debate may be nearing its end
What is at the heart of the controversy?
The Church of England decided that women could be priests almost 20 years ago.
However, the question of women bishops has remained a thorny issue for the church, with groups of traditionalists firmly opposed to the idea.
Almost all opponents accept there will be women bishops - but they want their safeguards guaranteed. Supporters, though, have always feared concessions would mean a woman bishop did not have full authority in her own diocese.
Is it close to a solution?
In November 2013, the general synod backed revised proposals for the possible consecration of women bishops.
It had been thought they could not be voted on until July 2015 at the earliest, but on 11 February, the synod approved a speeded-up timetable which could allow the proposals to be voted on this July.
If it is approved, the first women bishops could be appointed this year, many observers believe.
What happened to the last attempt to allow women bishops?
A measure before the synod in November 2012 would have made it lawful to consecrate women as bishops, but while it passed in the Houses of Bishops and Clergy, it failed to gain the required two-thirds majority in the House of Laity.
What is different about the proposals now being considered?
The latest proposals go for the simplest possible option in allowing women to become bishops, long called for by the most forthright among those in favour.
It envisages that safeguards for the opponents (allowing them to request male priests and bishops to look after their parishes) could be guaranteed by principles set down in a declaration made by the House of Bishops, with disputes ruled on by an independent reviewer (widely dubbed an "ombudsman").
What do the two sides think of the latest proposal?
All parties say a more co-operative climate has emerged since the shock of the November 2012 vote.
The main group campaigning for women bishops, Women and the Church (Watch), said after the November 2013 session it was "very encouraged by the tone of the debate and the result of the vote which was overwhelmingly positive".
Anglo-Catholic opponents of women bishops have also voiced enthusiasm. "The battle is surely over," said Prebendary David Houlding.
Evangelical opponents are not quite as sanguine. The Rev Rod Thomas, chairman of the evangelical group Reform, said discussions this year had been "very uplifting" but concerns remained.
"I shall be voting for this motion - that is not to say that at the end of the day... that I will be able to vote for final approval for the package," he said at the November 2013 session.
Is the new approach likely to succeed?
A measure along these lines would have been even more unlikely to pass in November 2012 than the one which was rejected - because it gives less to opponents.
But the margin by which the 2012 measure failed was small. Seventy-four members of the House of Laity voted against, with 132 in favour.
In the present synod only a few lay members would have to vote the other way to reverse the earlier result - assuming everyone else's vote stayed the same.
How long has this row been going on?
The Church agreed to ordain women priests in 1994, but the proposal to appoint women as bishops sparked a new set of problems.
Those who oppose women's ordination would not simply have to tolerate women bishops, as they do with women priests; they might also have to obey them as their superiors in the Church.
Women bishops would also be able to ordain priests, which some opponents say is not merely unacceptable, but theologically impossible.
Who are the opponents and what have they got against women bishops?
Some - but not all - of the CofE's evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics are opposed.
Anglo-Catholics revere the traditions and ceremonies of the Church. Some believe a woman cannot be a valid bishop and ordaining women prevents unity with the Roman Catholics.
Evangelicals place great stress on the teachings of the Bible and those who oppose women's ordination say scripture requires male headship in the Church.
How many Anglican women bishops are there worldwide?
There are nearly 30 in active ministry. The most recently appointed, in September 2013, is Bishop Eggoni Pushpalalitha of Nandyal, a diocese of the Church of South India.
The same month the Reverend Pat Storey, rector of St Augustine's in Derry, was appointed Church of Ireland Bishop of Meath and Kildare - the first woman Anglican bishop in the UK and Ireland.
In addition there are four in Australia and New Zealand; five in Canada; one in Cuba; 13 in the USA; one in Swaziland; and one in South Africa.
Why is this vote important to the rest of us?
It would alter the leadership profile of the Church of England, which is central to many state occasions and local ceremonies across the country.
For Christians who are not actively religious, the CofE is often the "default" Church that they turn to for weddings, christenings, funerals and education.
Women bishops' approval by the CofE would also encourage those who are starting to call for the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church.