Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Bid to restart women bishops talks

The Most Rev Justin Welby is to give his first presidential address to the General Synod as Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury is to give a key speech to members of the Church of England's national assembly as attempts to restart talks over introducing women bishops get under way.

The Most Rev Justin Welby will give his first presidential address to the General Synod as Archbishop of Canterbury.

The 57-year-old former oil executive and Bishop of Durham formally succeeded Dr Rowan Williams as head of the Church of England and spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion earlier this year.

His address comes as the General Synod attempts to restart talks over women bishops for the first time since the shock defeat of legislation in November.

Members, gathered at York University, will meet in private before debating new proposals on Monday which could mean final approval for female bishops by 2015.

The new scheme, backed by the Church of England bishops, would make allowances for traditionalists who oppose women bishops, but there would no longer be any dioceses where none of the serving bishops ordains women as priests. Under the plans, the bishops would be asked to draw up arrangements for opponents of the move.

Final approval could be given to the new legislation by either July or November 2015 - with the first female bishop appointed possibly by 2016.

Earlier legislation to introduce women bishops was derailed by a minority of lay members of the General Synod meeting in London in November.

The bishops said the new proposals they backed - known as "option one" out of four set out by a working group - would "rely least on law and place the greatest emphasis on trust".

Other debates on the agenda include the Church's response to clerical child abuse following a series of scandals involving clergymen in Chichester Diocese, and welfare reform. Members will also be asked to approve a draft scheme to dissolve the three existing dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield.

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