Women bishops would be 'liberating' for Church - AofC

Published 20 November 2012
PA
Dr Rowan Williams said it was "deeply troubling" that the debate on women bishops could go on for another decade

The Archbishop of Canterbury has appealed for legislation on women bishops to finally be passed so that the Church of England can move on.

The General Synod will vote today on a draft Measure allowing women into the episcopate for the first time.

The Church of England already has women priests but there has been strong opposition to the consecration of women as bishops.

Dr Rowan Williams admitted that the legislation was "far from perfect" but expressed concern for the future of the Church if the legislation falls today.

The draft Measure requires a two thirds majority in all three Houses in Synod.

A majority is predicted among the bishops and clergy, but the vote among the laity is expected to be close.

If the draft Measure falls today, the legislative process will have to start again from scratch and it will be years before Synod takes a final vote on the new legislation to allow women into the episcopate.

The Archbishop expressed unease about the prospect of the debate on women bishops extending for another decade.

"I'm rather clear that a no vote would not do anything positive for our mission at this juncture and there remains the deeply troubling question of how much energy we want to spend on this in the next decade and how much we want to buy into the extraordinary energies and skills of the next Archbishop into this same issue," he said.

While some traditionalists feel the legislation does not go far enough in accommodating their views, the Archbishop said they should not underestimate the significance of the legal provision ensuring that alternative oversight is provided where requested.

"I hope we can decide to liberate ourselves and our leadership," he continued.

"That's what I'm praying for today for all of us, even those strongly opposed. For a sense of liberation and clarification made so that we can go onto the next stage."

Even with a yes vote today, he warned that the next stage would not be easy or peaceful.

"We will still have to argue through the context of the Code and we shall have to find ways of supporting and consoling and affirming those who are lost or hurt. But I do believe it is time to turn a page."

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