Women bishop supporters want single clause measure

Supporters of women bishops are calling on bishops in the Church of England to bring back a single clause measure.

The Women And The Church group (WATCH) said the entire Church was being "held to ransom" by minority groups who oppose women in the episcopate.

Draft legislation to allow women bishops was voted down by the Church's parliamentary body last month despite the majority of Synod members voting in favour.

Although the legislation was passed by the bishops and clergy, it did not receive the two-thirds majority required among the laity.

The vote has upset many in the Church of England as 42 out of the 44 dioceses had also backed the measure.

The Archbishops' Council said at a meeting last week that it wanted to resolve the situation "as a matter of urgency".

The two-day meeting concluded with a determination to restart the process to admit women to the episcopate at the next meeting of the General Synod in July 2013.

Bishops are meeting in two weeks to work out a timetable for discussions in the New Year.

WATCH is calling for a single clause measure whereby provision for traditionalists can be made at local level.

"This option will maintain the greatest degree of unity and open dialogue between those of differing views and prevent ghettos forming within the Church. This is the way that every other Province in the Anglican Communion that has voted to ordain women as bishops has chosen to proceed," they said.

"Those opposed do not want women bishops. They do not want resolution of the issue but to extend the decision-making process as long as possible.

"We cannot see how further conversation will result in any proposals that have not been tested and rejected before. They will simply prolong the process."

WATCH is calling upon the House of Bishops to make its meetings in December and beyond open to the public.

The group said it was "imperative" that senior women were able to play a full part in the discussions.

The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said: "We have spent enough time in exploring how to accommodate the views of those who do not want women as bishops.

"Generosity is laudable but without limits it becomes a kind of profligacy. We are wasting the Church's precious resources, both its money and its people if we seek to continue the debate about provision in law.

"The House of Bishops must act decisively now to legislate for women bishops in the simplest possible way."