Diocese votes for women bishops

Church leaders in the diocese of Ripon and Leeds are urging the Church of England’s General Synod to pass legislation allowing women bishops as soon as possible after hearing of the outrage and dismay across the diocese following last November’s vote against the proposals.

Canon Charles Dobbin, Vicar of Moor Allerton and Shadwell told the diocesan synod, meeting in Harrogate last Saturday, that people were “stunned and dismayed” by the failure of General Synod last year.

He said: “Regret is a very gentle word to describe the violent feelings that church council members voiced over the way the vote compromises our mission.

“Individual members have been ridiculed by non-Christian acquaintances who claim that this shows how completely irrelevant the church is, how the church is obsessed with issues that society addressed ages ago and is demonstrating how unfit the church is to say anything to the wider community.

“General Synod has let down individuals within churches who have taken to heart the priority of engaging in mission.”

Dr John Beal, a lay member of General Synod who voted against the women bishops measure, argued that Synod had already agreed in principle for women bishops but had to get the legislation right for those who, in conscience or for theological principle, couldn’t agree to it.

But speaking in support of the motion, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, Rt Revd John Packer said that it expressed sadness and anger following the vote last November.

He added: “It is important that there are as many affirmations as possible of the ministry of ordained women clergy and it is important that we move as quickly as possible to remove this anomaly.”

He expressed the commitment of the House of Bishops to move as quickly as possible.

Eighty three members voted in favour of the motion, which called for the General Synod to pass a measure for women to be admitted to the episcopate as soon as possible. There was one vote against and six abstentions.