Church of England members rejected a direct plea yesterday from the man who will be the next Archbishop of Canterbury to approve the appointment of women bishops, in a move which threatens to split Anglicans.
The reform needed to win a two-thirds majority from bishops, clergy and laity in the near-500 strong Church of England Synod, but while bishops and clergy backed it, it failed to win the necessary support from the laity.
Forty-four bishops were in favour, with three against and two abstentions, while Church of England clergy supported change by 148 in favour to 45 against. However, the vote of the laity produced a 132 in favour and 74 against result – short of the necessary majority.
Risking his influence, Bishop of Durham, Rt Rev Justin Welby, who takes over as Archbishop of Canterbury in the New Year, forthrightly backed reform, saying women priests had made a powerful contribution to the church since they were admitted to the priesthood.
478 years on, and they’re still a bit Catholic.