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C of E will be deeply harmed if it cannot make this long-overdue change

Robin Gill, Professor of Applied Theology at the University of Kent, has commented on the Church of England’s rejection of plans for women bishops.

He said: 'Many people will be deeply disappointed about the failure of the General Synod to agree to proceed with the ordination of women as bishops in the Church of England. All but two of the Diocese were in favour, as were almost all of the bishops and three-quarters of the clergy on General Synod. Unfortunately the laity on General Synod fell a few votes short of the two-thirds in favour required. In other words every group had a majority agreeing with the overwhelming support - in both churches and the population at large - for women to be bishops, yet the vote was still lost. A significant section of the laity on the General Synod is frankly out of step with others on this issue.

'But that was also the case twenty years ago when General Synod narrowly voted for women to be priests. It was the lay members who were most hesitant. To his great credit Archbishop George Carey detected this early and managed to persuade some of his fellow evangelicals to drop their opposition. Without this the vote would have been lost then as well. Somehow this did not seem to happen this time around.

'I hope that all is not lost and that a way will be found to bring this back to General Synod as soon as possible and that the new Archbishop, Justin Welby, will be able to use his great skills in reconciliation to change hearts and minds. The Church of England will be deeply harmed if it cannot make this long-overdue change.'

Robin Gill is Professor of Applied Theology in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Kent. He has published extensively in sociological theology, the sociological study of churches, Christian and religious ethics, and health care ethics. He is Director of the MA in Applied Theology.


Story published at 9:16am 22 November 2012

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