Q&A: Women bishops vote
The Church of England's governing general synod has voted against allowing women to become bishops. We look at the background and possible consequences.
What was being decided?
The measure before the Synod would have made it lawful for women to be consecrated to the office of bishop.
This includes the posts of Archbishop of Canterbury and York; the diocesan bishops, who head the 42 other Church of England (CofE) dioceses in England, the Isle of Man and continental Europe; and "suffragan" or assistant bishops.
What happens now?
According to the rules the measure cannot be brought back "in the same form" during the present general synod's term - that is, before November 2015.
But there are widespread calls for urgent action to bring the issue back to the current synod.
The synod's House of Bishops says it will finalise a package next May, to be put before the synod in July.
Opponents say they will help push the law through in the current synod, if round-table talks produce a deal on provisions for them.
But some supporters say attempts at compromise must end. They want a measure simply saying women can be bishops, without any provisions in it for opponents. This could be passed in the next general synod if elections go their way, they say.
How long has this row been going on? It seems like decades
Decades is right. See the timeline published by the CofE. 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. Most of the legal wrangling has been over how to reassure the opponents.
At the end of a legislative process that began in 2000 the Church's synod was supposed to vote in July. But an amendment by the House of Bishops sparked fury in some quarters, and the vote was put off while the bishops thought again.
Was the measure likely to pass?
It needed two-thirds majorities in each of the synod's three houses: bishops, clergy and laity.
A two-thirds majority in the House of Laity looked difficult to achieve, and so it proved. 74 members of that House voted against against 132 in favour. The concessions for opponents did not satisfy them.
Who are the opponents and what have they got against women bishops?
Some - but not all - of the CofE's evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics oppose the appointment of women bishops.
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. Those who oppose women bishops say scripture requires male headship in the Church.
How did the proposed law cater for them?
Parishes who object to women bishops would be able to send a Letter of Request asking that they be placed under the care of a male bishop.
Were the two sides happy with that provision?
Not really. Opponents of women bishops want to know that the male bishop looking after them is one who sympathises with them - not one who supports women's ordination.
And those who insist on "male headship" do not want a stand-in bishop who gets his authority from a woman diocesan bishop.
Supporters feel they have already made huge concessions by recognising in law that some Anglicans do not believe women should be priests and bishops.
They are very wary of any move to give a stand-in male bishop autonomous authority, saying that this would mean a woman bishop in whose diocese he operated would be a second-class bishop.
What was the row over the bishops' amendment about?
The House of Bishops in May passed an amendment specifying that the male bishops and priests who look after objecting parishes should exercise their ministry in accordance with the parishes' theological convictions.
This infuriated supporters of women bishops. Women and the Church said putting this in the law itself "would entrench permanent division" and added that the bishops' last-minute interference ruined years of negotiation and compromise.
On 12 September, they adopted a new wording proposed by the Reverend Janet Appleby which said the stand-in male bishops and priests should be selected "in a manner which respects" the grounds on which the objecting parishes ask for them.
How many Anglican women bishops are there worldwide?
Among the Anglican Communion, a worldwide family of churches of which the Church of England is part, there are 23 women bishops in active ministry.
Three are in Australia and New Zealand; five in Canada; one in Cuba; 13 in the USA; and the newest is Bishop Ellina Wamukoa of Swaziland, elected in July.
Not as many people are active in the Church as formerly. 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. Indeed, if the CofE refuses to have women bishops that role could be called into question.
For Christians who are not actively religious, it 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.