A Church of England bishop has apologised after accidentally voting against a key report that kept teaching on marriage as between one man and one woman.
The Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, was forced to apologise to the Archbishop of Canterbury late Wednesday night for the error that falsely implied the bishops were divided on the report.
'Much to my embarrassment,' he wrote in a blog post, 'I have managed to give the impression that there was not complete agreement in the House of Bishops that the Report provided us with the best way forward.
'Due to a moment of distraction and some confusion over the voting process, I pressed the wrong button on my handset, thus registering a vote against taking note rather than a vote for taking note of the Report!
'I have apologised to my colleagues in the House of Bishops and to the Archbishops for my mistake.'
The report was defeated after clergy voted by 100 to 93 against, in a rebuke to the bishops' authority.
The result throws the Church into confusion over its stance on gay marriage.
Aside from the rebuke to bishops' authority delivered by the clergy, a side story was the single vote against the report from the bishops who authorised the report.
The embarrassment comes after the Church introduced electronic voting where members of synod – the CofE's ruling body – press one to approve the motion, two to reject it and three to abstain.
Despite the comical error the report's defeat is a major blow to the Archbishop of Canterbury's authority after he instigated three years of internal discussions costing more than £384,000 on talks designed to heal deep rifts within the Church of England.
The report was the result of those talks. It refused to budge on the Church's view on marriage but promised 'maximum freedom' within existing laws.It called for 'a fresh tone and culture of welcome and support' for LGBT people that went too far some conservatives who voted against and did not go far enough for many liberal members who also voted it down.