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Church of England to start again on female bishops

Wednesday - 11/28/2012, 11:59am  ET

LONDON (AP) - The Church of England has taken a tentative step toward trying again to get its governing General Synod to approve female bishops.

The church said Wednesday the Archbishops' Council agreed this week that the issue needed to be resolved "as a matter of urgency" and should be restarted when the General Synod next meets in July.

A brief statement from the 19-member council did not indicate when another vote could be taken. The council recommended that all the bishops, at their meeting next month, "put in place a clear process for discussions in the new year with a view to bringing legislative proposals before the Synod in July."

Church legislation authorizing female bishops failed last week when laity in the General Synod failed to muster the necessary two-thirds majority, falling just six votes short.

Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed his disappointment and last week urged the church to "get on with it."

He said it was a matter for the church to resolve, but some lawmakers have suggested forcing the issue by abolishing the church's exemption from the law against gender discrimination.

Much of the debate in the General Synod was about provisions for church members who believe only men can be priests and bishops, and do not want to be supervised by a female bishop. A compromise proposal to "respect" the views of opponents was opposed by some people on both sides of the debate.

The Times newspaper has reported that William Fittall, the secretary general of the Synod, has proposed that the next vote be on a simpler measure, which simply says yes or no to allowing women to be consecrated as bishops without any provision for opponents.

The Church of England has refused to confirm or deny that report.

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