Likely delay for women bishops vote
A key vote on introducing the first women bishops in the Church of England is likely to be put on hold amid continuing deadlock over the issue.
A move will be made to adjourn giving final approval to legislation introducing women bishops at a meeting on Monday of the General Synod at York University. The postponement would allow for a controversial last-minute change to the legislation made earlier this year by the Church of England bishops to be reconsidered.
The dispute centres on how far the Church of England should accommodate traditionalist parishes who object to the appointment of a woman bishop in their diocese.
Pro-women campaigners have said that the new amendment would enshrine discrimination against women in law by allowing traditionalists to choose a male bishop who shares their own views on female clergy.
Senior female clergy have threatened to vote with conservative evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics against final approval of the legislation if the amendment is not reconsidered by the bishops.
The Rev Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, Durham University representative on the General Synod, and a prominent campaigner for women bishops, called for the debate to be adjourned to allow for the bishops to reconsider the amendment.
"It will be awful if we have to vote against and I really, really hope that it doesn't come to that," she said.
"But I would rather not enshrine in law that women are discriminated against. The whole point of having women bishops was to say that the Church of England believes that women and men are equal and made in the image of God. I do not want it enshrined in law that we officially do not believe that. I would rather just leave it."
The move comes after the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams acknowledged that many in the Church felt "profoundly frustrated" with the difficulties it has faced over the introduction of women bishops.
In a sermon in York Minster, he said that whatever the outcome of its negotiations over women bishops, the Church of England must not become "depressed" over its problems Dr Williams said: "The last thing our society or our world needs is a depressed Church. That is something I trust we shall bear in mind and heart in the days ahead."