Justin Welby: We'll stop protests at consecration of women bishops

Rt Rev Libby Lane was the Church of England's first woman bishop.Reuters

The Church of England is to ban protests at the consecration of female bishops after a campaign mounted by Women and the Church (WATCH).

The organisation wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury following protests that disrupted the last four consecrations of women bishops, saying: "Such interruptions create the perception that the Church is willing to allow a woman who has been called by God and the Church, and appointed by the Crown, to be publicly insulted and undermined.

"If that is so, it undermines and insults all women: and especially women for whom female bishops are potent symbols of a radical shift in the Church's treatment of women. 'Maybe things haven't changed at all, underneath', they might conclude."

WATCH said today: "The Archbishop of Canterbury has informed us that conversations are in progress with the relevant people so that, in future, objections such as that at Canterbury Cathedral in June will not be allowed. Thank you to those who have written in support of our statement."

The mechanism for banning protests is not clear and the Archbishop of Canterbury's office declined to comment further for Christian Today.

However, at one point in the consecration service the congregation is traditionally asked whether the candidate should be a bishop. WATCH had said: "At the next consecration of female bishops, we hope that things will be arranged differently." 

According to Law and Religion's David Pocklington, "The indication that 'conversations are in progress with the relevant people' suggests that an internal 'management' solution is being sought, as changes to the congregational acclamation would probably require the approval of General Synod."

Rev Stephen Holland, an independent minister from Lancashire, has protested the last seven of the 10 consecrations so far and said his aim was not to prevent them taking place, but just to have his voice heard.

Rev Paul Williamson, a Church of England priest in Hanworth, Middlesex, protested at the consecration of Bishop Libby Lane in York but has not attempted any since then.