Women bishops decision is a 'real blow' says Bishop of Gloucester
The Bishop of Gloucester has slammed the Church of England's decision not to allow the appointment of women as bishops as a 'real blow'.
Right Reverend Michael Perham has this morning attacked the rejection of the measure by the House of Laity.
It was passed by the synod's houses of bishops and clergy but failed in the third house.
The votes were 44 for and three against with two abstentions in the House of Bishops, 148 for and 45 against in the House of Clergy and 132 for and 74 against in the House of Laity. The vote in the House of Laity, was just short of the required majority - six more "yes" votes were needed.
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The House of laity is the largest element of the General Synod and is made up of lay members of the church elected by its 44 dioceses.
Revd Perham said: "The failure of the women bishops' measure to achieve the necessary majority in the House of Laity is a huge disappointment and sadness.
"Many men as much as many women will experience this as a real blow, but my heart goes out particularly to our women clergy who have ministered so effectively in the church and had hoped today would be an affirmation of their ministry.
"In the Diocese of Gloucester I think they know their priesthood is honoured and valued.
"I believe those of us who have worked hard for a positive vote need now a little time to work through our initial sadness and frustration, but then we must go to work - led firmly by the House of Bishops, I hope - on finding a way through that does not mean five more years of waiting for a development that will surely come.
"There will be women bishops in the Church of England. I have no doubt about that."
The Very Revd Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester, has also waded into the debate.
He said: "The ministry of women is warmly welcomed at Gloucester Cathedral. We have senior women on the clergy staff and they are a blessing to us and to the community we serve.
"Throughout the Diocese of Gloucester, women are active alongside men in serving their people in the name of Jesus Christ and for the good of all. It is only right that women priests should have the opportunity to become bishops alongside men.
"Like so many, I was deeply saddened by the recent vote in the General Synod, effectively the parliament of the Church of England. Sadly the vote was lost by only six votes in the House of Laity, the clergy and the bishops were hugely in favour. You may wonder why this has happened.
"The church values its unity greatly, so a two-thirds majority is needed for all big decisions, rather than a simple majority.
"Those who find it difficult to accept women as bishops felt the need to have protection by legislation, rather than by 'respect' for their position, which was what was proposed on Tuesday.
"Whilst the traditional place and the conscience of all is indeed important, I believe that the Bible and Christian experience teach us that respect is a Christian virtue, whilst legislation is a sign of humans being unable to agree to differ in love.
"Overall in the life of the church, the vast majority of people want women to be bishops, and the voting in the General Synod does not represent the will of the people. Perhaps it is time to reconsider our systems of voting and governance. It could be that this may not come back for another decision for another five years. This cannot be.
"More than that, this should not be about the internal discussions of the Church. We have a public ministry and there are many more important things locally, nationally and internationally that we should be doing for and with people.
"I hope and pray that we can find a way to return to this matter as swiftly as possible and to welcome the ministry of women as bishops. This is not just about women, it is about all of us, and it is about the full expression of Christian ministry for the good of society.
"We here at your cathedral will continue to welcome all and to work and pray for the inclusion of all, male and female, in the life of the church and for the good of us all."