The outgoing and incoming Archbishops of Canterbury have spoken of their sadness after the Church of England’s governing body voted against allowing women to be appointed as bishops.
The vote was held last night at the Synod, which is divided into three houses. In the House of Bishops, 44 members voted in favour of women bishops, with just three against and two abstentions.
The House of Clergy also saw more members vote in favour, with 148 approving the move and 45 voting against.
In the House of Laity, however, which represents lay-members of the church around the country, 74 members voted against the move whilst 132 voted in favour, narrowly missing the two thirds margin that was needed in each house to see the move passed.
The outcome, which will not be debated again until 2015 when the Synod is re-elected, has seen widespread outrage and condemnation.
Outgoing Bishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who will leave his post at the end of 2012, said of the matter: “Of course I hoped and prayed that this particular business would be at another stage before I left, and of course it is a personal sadness, a deep personal sadness that is not the case.”
Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson agreed, adding: “This is a very sad day indeed, not just for those of us who support the ministry of women but for the future of the church, which might very well be gravely damaged by this.”
Politically, Prime Minister David Cameron has condemned the move. He explained that although he believes that respect should be given to the decisions of independent organisations, he believes “the time is right for women bishops. They need to get on with it”.
Despite widespread belief that the decision will cause lasting, possibly devastating damage to the Church’s reputation, some members remained adamant that the legislation should not be passed.
Canon Simon Kilwick, who chairs the Catholic Group in the Synod, said: “I do not believe that this draft legislation will be good for the Church of England…We are all desperate to move on from the sad infighting of the last few years – but this legislation does not provide a clear way forward.”