THE House of Lords passed the Bishops and Priests (Consecration
and Ordination of Women) Measure on Tuesday night.
The vote followed a debate in which Baroness Perry praised the
"immense patience" of Church of England women clergy, the
Archbishop of Canterbury emphasised the need to remain a "broad
Church", and Lord Cormack welcomed the provision for
Lady Perry said that women clergy had been snubbed by male
colleagues and criticised "because their high-heels clonked", and
it had been "infinitely humiliating" to see the Church "reject the
potential of those wonderful women within it". One "very senior"
woman had found that male colleagues failed to invite her to
important meetings. Yet such women remained "patient and
Introducing the "very long-overdue" Measure, the Archbishop of
Canterbury spoke of the "outstanding leadership" of women in the
Church and the "frustration" of the process for opening up the
episcopate to them. He said that there was "solid cross-party
support" for a Bill to fast-track the admission of women bishops
into the House of Lords.
Lord Cormack welcomed the safeguards for traditionalists in the
Measure, which would ensure that they were not "driven out".
Baroness Berridge, a "state-comp girl", suggested that women
bishops might "give a head start to broadening the educational
background among leaders" (News,
5 September), and questioned whether the Church was
"disproportionately promoting married people". In response,
Archbishop Welby said that "the pool is being improved": the Bishop
of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, was in charge of this process.
The marital status of candidates was "not relevant".
The Archbishop also sought to reassure peers concerned that
senior women might be considered too old to serve as bishops. The
Bishop of Hereford had been appointed recently, aged 64, and the
Archbishop felt "passionate" about not losing the experience of
Baroness Sherlock suggested that there was "something quite
powerful and inclusive about taking that pain [of being excluded
for many years] into the very heart of the episcopate". The
Archbishop also reassured the House that the clause in the Measure
stating that a bishop was not a public office was "not a cloak for
discrimination on sexuality, marital status, marital history, or
for that matter, age".
Among several concerns raised by Baroness Howe, vice-president
of WATCH, was how congregations who supported the ministry of women
could request a "non-discriminating bishop". The Bishop of
Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, reminded the House that
there would be no diocese without a bishop who would ordain
Lady Howe also sought reassurance that the ministry of a
"headship bishop" promised to conservative Evangelicals (News,
27 June) would be limited to those parishes that requested it.
Bishop Langstaff said that "it might be good if that person was
somehow tied into what we might call the mainstream ministry of
bishops in some way and therefore prevented from becoming overly
Concluding the debate, the Archbishop hoped for "a deeper and
wider pool of bishops - and, as soon as possible, on these
The Measure will now pass to the House of Commons for debate.
The Amending Canon is likely to be promulged in Synod in