THE Church of England has been urged by David Cameron to “get with the programme” after legislation introducing the first women bishops failed to clear its final hurdle in the General Synod.
The Prime Minister said he was “very sad” about the narrow defeat of the draft measure paving the way for women bishops in the Church of England.
The outcome has plunged the Church of England into crisis and dealt a blow to the authority of the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and his successor the Rt Rev Justin Welby.
Mr Cameron told MPs in the House of Commons that he is a “strong” supporter of women bishops.
“I’m very sad about the way the vote went yesterday and I’m particularly sad for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, because I know he saw this as the major campaign he wanted to achieve at the end of his excellent tenure of that office,” Mr Cameron said.
He added: “I’m very clear the time is right for women bishops, it was right many years ago. They need to get on with it, as it were, and get with the programme.
“But you do have to respect the individual institutions and the way they work while giving them a sharp prod.”
Earlier Dr Williams, in a statement to the General Synod, said the Church of England had a “lot of explaining” to do following the shock defeat.
He told the General Synod: “We have, to put it very bluntly, a lot of explaining to do.
“Whatever the motivation for voting yesterday, whatever the theological principle on which people acted and spoke, the fact remains that a great deal of this discussion is not intelligible to our wider society.”