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News > UK >

Campaigners talk of betrayal and disaster after vote

by a staff reporter

GEOFF CRAWFORD

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Sorrow: a candle-unlit vigil was held outside Church House, Westminster, on Wednesday. The candles will be lit only when women can be bishops

Credit: GEOFF CRAWFORD

Sorrow: a candle-unlit vigil was held outside Church House, Westminster, on Wednesday. The candles will be lit only when women can be bishops

SORROW, dismay, distress, and grief: the words were repeated by bishop after bishop as they left the Synod chamber after the vote.

Many warned of the consequences for the Church in wider society. Several have organised open meetings and services for clergy in the next few days, to reflect on the vote.

Some clergy who had campaigned for a yes vote, including the Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, described the result as a "vote for irrelevance".

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell said: "There's a risk the national Church will become a national embarrassment."

The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, said it was "disastrous", and that he and others would find it "difficult to process our disappointment in the days ahead".

AMONG the first to welcome the outcome was the Revd Rod Thomas, chairman of Reform, a conservative Evangelical group. "We thank God that the Church of England has avoided making a big mistake which would have led to real division and a less inclusive Church.

"The Synod's decision shows respect for the issues of conscience involved. It has avoided putting significant minorities who, as faithful Anglicans, seek to follow the Bible's teaching, into an impossible position. . .

"We stand ready for any discussions that our future Archbishop may wish to initiate, and happily commit ourselves to approaching these positively."

The Catholic Group on General Synod said that it regretted that Synod had been put in the position whereby draft legislation failed at final approval "because it was unclear and unfair in its provision for those who, in conscience, are unable to accept the ministry of women as bishops or priests".

It called on the House of Bishops to reconvene the talks started in the summer between representatives of different groups, chaired by the Bishop of Durham.

"The Catholic Group is committed to playing a full part in the process of achieving good legislation to enable us all to move forward together in mission and service to the nation."

The Ven. Michael Lawson, who chairs the Church of England Evangelical Council, said that the Church should not be criticised for being out of touch. "The truer criticism could well be that we failed to attend to God's work in God's way.

"As the CEEC has warned on many occasions, one of the reasons for the outcome of the vote will have been the weak and inadequate approach to provision for those who could not accept the possibility of the ordination of women to the episcopate."

Forward in Faith said that it had not been surprised by the vote, "as it has been apparent for some time that it lacked any consensus across the whole of the Church of England".

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, who is also master of the College of Guardians of the shrine at Walsingham, said: "We pray for the wisdom and the humility to remain attentive to each other within the Church of England as we seek to understand how the future will now unfold."

ANGLICAN Churches overseas where women are already consecrated bishop reacted with disappointment to the result.

The Rt Revd Jane Alexander, one of five female bishops in the Church of Canada, said: "It's incredibly disappointing. For me, once you've taken the step to say that women can be in ordained positions of leadership, as deacons and priests, it follows for me that they can be bishops as well."

The Rt Revd Victoria Matthews, of Christchurch, New Zealand, said she was "gutted" by the vote. She described the decision as a "product of fear".

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