Thursday, 22 November 2012


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Synod vote is wrong for the church, says Bishop of Leicester
The Bishop of Leicester says the General Synod's decision to vote against the introduction of women bishops in the Church of England was a "personal blow".
Bishop Tim Stevens said he had invited members of the diocese to Leicester Cathedral tomorrow to reflect on the decision and "pray for the Church".
Draft legislation was carried through the houses of bishops and clergy but failed at the final hurdle when it did not gain the necessary two-thirds majority among lay members of the General Synod.
In a pastoral letter to his clergy, Bishop Tim said: "It is clear to me that this is a watershed moment in terms of the relationship between the Church of England and the nation.
"It is also likely to be a watershed in terms of the relationship between the General Synod and the dioceses.
"I know there will be many who find this decision incomprehensible."Yet we must respect and seek to understand the reasons why a significant minority of the House of Laity opposed the legislation.
"For myself, after 12 years of discussion in the House of Bishops, this comes as something of a personal blow.
"All of us know that an all-male episcopate cannot be a sustainable position for the Church of England into the future.
"If some proposals for change are the expression of God's will for the Church, then I believe they will prevail. We do not lose our heart in spite of our disappointment."
On Tuesday, the House of Bishops voted 44 in favour, with three against and two abstentions.
In the House of Clergy, 148 voted in favour and 45 against, with no abstentions.
But in the House of Laity, 74 voted against, compared with 132 in favour, with no abstentions.
Had the measure received final approval, it would have gone before the Parliament, with the first women bishops set to be appointed as early as 2014.
In his letter, which was sent yesterday, Bishop Tim urged Church followers to "take special care of each other at a time when some people will be bearing very personally the pain and disappointment".
He said that the majority of Church of England members wanted to move towards ordaining women as bishops and that the Church "remains faithfully at the service of the people of England without any discrimination whatsoever".
Canon Barry Naylor, the bishop's adviser on urban issues, said the rejection was "so very sad".
"I think my position is that the Church must move in this direction," he said.
"I think that in the eyes of the world it does make us look vaguely ridiculous.
"I think we need to listen to God in the scriptures, in the traditions of the church, but also we have got to listen to God speaking to us today."
The cathedral will be open for reflection tomorrow at 7.30pm.

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