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Convocations and laity say preliminary yes to women bishops

06 July 2012

THE General Synod will debate women bishops on Monday, after the House of Laity and the Convocations of Canterbury and York voted to approve the draft legislation this afternoon.

While the language of the motion before Synod members today was whether or not they approved of the legislation, many speakers indicated they were voting in favour simply to allow a full debate to take place on Monday.

Today a simple majority was required in the five separate meetings; but if the Measure is to receive final approval it must achieve a two-thirds majority in the three Houses. The votes today, if translated to the Houses, show the measure comfortably reached the required two-thirds majority; but there is no guarantee that voting figures would be the same on Monday.

Joy Gilliver (Chichester), who opposes the Measure, said she wanted to send it to the full Synod to enable it to debate the matter on Monday, but that "I can't, as a matter of integrity, vote yes to approve it. I wish the motion was that it should be discussed by whole General Synod. I could vote for that."

A number of speakers urged members to vote in favour of the legislation today, but to push for an adjournment on Monday so that it could be referred back to the Bishops. 

Christina Rees (St Albans), the former chair of WATCH (Women and the Church), said that the un-amended Measure was like Ronseal: "It says what it does on the tin. With these amendments we no longer have that."

She continued: "Let's get this to Synod and then say to the Bishops, look at it again and give us back the carefully scrutinised draft we had before their two amendments."

But others welcomed the Bishops' amendments. Jacky Humphreys (Bristol) said that she'd been contacted by a priest from a parish that had passed Resolutions A, B, and C, encouraging her to vote in favour of the Measure. "He said he wanted more, and that this was a compromise, but that he could now live with it [following the Bishops' amendments]."

Mary Durlacher (Chelmsford) said that she was "concerned about the increased temperature of emotive language being used" in recent weeks; while David Kemp (Canterbury) said that it was time to "stop the megaphone diplomacy". The different campaign groups should be "locked together in a smoke-filled room to thrash out a compromise".

The voting figures for today's preliminary debate were:

House of Laity

For: 123; Against: 53; Abstentions: none

Lower House of the Convocation of York (clergy)

For: 38; Against: 11; Abstentions: 2

Upper House of the Convocation of York (bishops)

For:11; Against: 2; Abstentions: none

Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury (clergy)

For: 95; Against: 19; Abstentions: 1

Upper House of the Convocation of Canterbury (bishops)

For: 27; Against: 0; Abstentions: none

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