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Church of England rejects women bishops

Published on Nov 21, 2012 6:08 AM
Canon Paula Gooder looks on alongside Rowan Williams (R), the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, after draft legislation introducing the first women bishops failed to receive final approval from the Church of England General Synod in London November 20, 2012. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - The Church of England was in turmoil on Tuesday after narrowly voting against the ordination of women bishops in a major setback for efforts to modernise the mother church of millions of Anglicans worldwide.

In its biggest crossroads moment since backing the introduction of women priests 20 years ago, just enough lay members of England's state church went against their bishops' wishes and voted against the measure.

Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford, said the church was now at risk of becoming a "national embarrassment" and that the public would struggle to understand the result. The legislation needed a two-thirds majority among each of the three houses in the General Synod, the church's governing body.

But though the bishops and the clergy comfortably cleared the threshold, the legislation fell short by just six voters among the laity. The bishops voted 44 in favour and three against, while two abstained (89.8 per cent). The clergy voted 148 in favour, 45 against, with no abstentions (76.7 per cent).

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