Big Issue: The Reverend Canon Paul Williams, area dean for Winchcombe and Tewkesbury, on women bishops
THE newspaper headlines were not good: "The Church of England has been plunged into its biggest crisis for decades".
Some even spoke of the Church "committing suicide", while others found the whole debate over women bishops simply mind-blowing to the majority of ordinary people, in and outside the Church.
Since 2000, General Synod, the governing body of the Church of England, has had three substantial reports on women bishops, the subject has been raised at 10 of its meetings and a considerable amount of time, energy and money has been spent in drafting legislation.
The Church of England has already decided that it wants to have women bishops. So, what went before General Synod last November were safeguards for those who were opposed to women bishops.
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The draft measure received over a two thirds majority in the House of Bishops and the House of Clergy, but failed by just six votes in the House of Laity. This caused further dismay because the legislation had already received a two thirds majority by its local equivalent in 37 out of 44 dioceses across the country.
Within the Church of England, I believe we are now at a crossroads. We need to be honest with each other and see that honesty as a gift and not as a threat.
Those who were opposed to this draft measure are, for whatever reason, opposed to women bishops.
I hope we were not witnessing, and will not tolerate further, attempts at prolonging a debate where some people have no intention of resolving the matter because, in all honesty, they can't.
For the sake of all involved, we need to move forward by enacting simple legislation which can be understood by all – if not agreed by all.
These laws must protect those, male or female, who exercise authority in the Church of England, respect the minority who cannot move in this direction, and release the God-given gifts of women in leadership so that the Church of England can serve the nation more effectively.
I am pleased to say that the motion was passed by a large majority, and that the Diocese of Gloucester is committed to women in leadership.