Archbishop says issue of women bishops must be revisited

Thu, Nov 22, 2012, 00:00

The Church of England has “a lot of explaining to do” to the church and to wider society after its rejection of legislation that would have allowed women to become bishops, the outgoing archbishop of Canterbury has said.

In a strongly worded speech to the General Synod yesterday, Rowan Williams warned that the failure of the vote in the house of laity on Tuesday had made the church’s governing body appear “wilfully blind” to the priorities of secular society.

“We have – to put it very bluntly – a lot of explaining to do,” he said. “A great deal of this discussion is not intelligible to our wider society. Worse than that, it seems as if we are wilfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of that wider society.”

Dr Williams, who will be succeeded as head of the church by Justin Welby, the bishop of Durham, next year, said the church had “undoubtedly” lost credibility due to the move.

That was the reason, he added, why the issue of female bishops could not simply be “parked” but had to be worked on further with urgency.

“We have as a result of yesterday undoubtedly lost a measure of credibility in our society,” he said.

The church is reeling from Tuesday’s vote, in which legislation that had been worked on for 12 years in synod was rejected by six votes in the house of laity. – (Guardian service)