BISHOPS in the Church of England have settled the text of the legislation to enable women to become bishops by an overwhelming majority.
Meeting in Oxford the House of Bishops made clear its desire for the draft legislation to be passed into law when it goes forward for final approval to the Church of Englandâ€™s General Synod in November.
Speaking on behalf of the House at the conclusion of their meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams said: â€œSince women were first made priests in the Church of England in 1994, their ministry has hugely enriched both church and society. It has become increasingly clear to most of us that barring women from becoming bishops is an anomaly that should be removed, for the good of the Churchâ€™s mission and service.
â€œIn July this year, the General Synod asked the House of Bishops to reconsider an alteration it had made to the proposed legislation on this subject. The Bishops have taken very seriously the anxieties expressed about the possible implications of their amendment and there has been widespread consultation since then.
â€œIn light of this consultation, the Bishops have discussed the measure again and are now bringing forward a new text that expresses both our conviction of the need to see this legislation passed and our desire to honour the conscience and contribution of those in the Church of England whose reservations remain.
â€œIt is particularly significant and welcome that the new text emerged not from the House of Bishops itself but rather from a serving woman priest.
â€œI hope all members of Synod will now reflect carefully on what the Bishops have decided and will continue to give thought and prayer to how they will vote in November.
â€œI am convinced that the time has come for the Church of England to be blessed by the ministry of women as bishops and it is my deep hope that the legislation will pass in November.â€
At its meeting in July the General Synod asked the House of Bishops to reconsider a provision in the legislation - Clause 5(1)(c) of the draft measure.
The new amendment submitted by the Revd Janet Appleby during the consultation process received overwhelming support from the House of Bishops in both their discussions and in the final vote.
In discussion the Bishops welcomed the simplicity of the new text, its emphasis on respect and the process of dialogue with parishes that it will promote.
The final text proposed by the House of Bishops is: Substitute for the words in clause 5(1)(c): "the selection of male bishops and male priests in a manner which respects the grounds on which parochial church councils issue Letters of Request under section 3"
The House also agreed to establish a group to develop the illustrative draft Code of Practice published in January to give effect to the new provision.
The full vote on the legislation takes place at the meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England which meets in London from 19 â€“ 21 November. For the legislation to pass it will require a two thirds majority in each of the Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity.