Failure by Church of England to introduce women bishops ‘incomprehensible to world’

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THE CHURCH of England’s governing body has been warned that its failure to introduce women bishops so far is viewed as “incomprehensible” by the wider world as it faced a second crucial vote on introducing the legislation this week.

Margaret Condick, a lay member of the General Synod from the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich diocese, said the collapse of legislation to introduce women bishops in November 2012 had led people to treat the Church of England with contempt.

She urged members of the General Synod to vote in favour of final approval for women bishops when a key vote takes place today at York University.

“People say ‘why have you taken so long, what is the problem?’ It is incomprehensible to most people,” she told the General Synod.

“Someone I know and respect from the evangelical Church said to me after the November 2012 debate ‘that was rubbish, what is happening?’ The vote brought us into disrepute, the wider Church and the whole country is beginning to treat us with contempt.”

The historic vote, if passed, could pave the way for the first female diocesan bishop in place by early next year. It comes after the plan was derailed by just six votes cast by lay members in November 2012, causing shock and bitter recriminations within the Church of England and prompting threats of an intervention by Parliament.

Supporters of women bishops have said they are hopeful of success but others have said they remained concerned as the General Synod has the same membership as in 2012. It was reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, is preparing to drive through the plan should the General Synod choose to reject it for a second time.