Women clergy to attend Church of England bishops' meetings

Cross and clothing of Church of England bishop Planned legislation intended to pave the way for women bishops was rejected last year

The bishops who lead the Church of England are to include female clergy in their meetings for the first time.

At least eight senior women clergy, such as deans and archdeacons, will participate as non-voting members of the House of Bishops.

The move is in response to the defeat of attempts to create women bishops.

Proposed legislation failed to win the backing of the Church's ruling general synod in November. The Church will reconsider the issue in the summer.

Supporters of the change partly blamed the defeat on a failure by the House of Bishops to consult women clergy about the best way to draft the legislation to include exemptions for traditionalists who do not want to serve under women bishops.

The proposed legislation needed to gain two-thirds majority support in each of the synod's three houses - bishops, clergy and laity - but fell short by six votes in the House of Laity.

In the latest move, at least eight senior women clergy will participate as non-voting members of the House of Bishops until such time as at least six women bishops have been appointed and joined the group by right.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said: "Amid the bitter recriminations that followed the defeat by the Church's ruling synod last year of legislation to introduce women bishops, its all-male House of Bishops received the lion's share of the blame.

"In particular, their decision to introduce increased exemptions for traditionalists late in the legislative process was regarded by many in the Church as the main reason for the defeat of the draft law last summer."

Our correspondent added that with pressure mounting on the Church to rectify an "embarrassing failure" when the issue returns to the synod in July, bishops are determined to make sure women clergy are included in drafting new proposals, and seen to be included.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    Some very interesting and informed posts on here today but the issue is should there be women bishops. As I do not attend church, although I see myself as christian, I think it really is up to those who attend church to decide. At the end of the day, whatever the outcome, congregations will vote with their feet one way or the other. It is like politics but there will be no going back after 5 years

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Nice try but this is just tokenism. The church needs to wake up to the modern world and not allow the laity to dictate what those who are ordained can and cannot do. The clergy are the church not the pew fillers. The church is proving itself to be so far out of touch its no wonder the numbers are falling. No organisation should be above the law, discrimination by gender sexuality etc is unlawful!

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Private institutions should be free to discriminate any way they choose to. If you set up a private club, you should be free to only admit men or women etc: some gyms do.

    If you set up a business, you should be free to only serve whoever you like. Your missed profits will be replaced with the immense ire of the community, but in a free society you should be free to choose to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    This just comes across a tokenism. I still dont understand why an organization such as the church can discriminate based on sex or sexual orientation but companies and employers cannot.

    Its sad that as the church continues to drag its feet, it becomes more and more irrelevant. Society have move forward, and for the better. The church has not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Thank God that Christians do not see the running of the church to be the same as that of society. The female clergy know and understand the teachings of the bible and will only react if the male clergy are going against these teachings. Its quite amazing seeing people whom are not even church goers commenting on deep christian issues. We'll welcome you all back to the pews with 2 arms


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