UK

Women Bishops Back On Church Of England Agenda

14/06/2013 17:53 BST | Updated 14/06/2013 17:57 BST

The Church of England's national assembly is to restart talks over women bishops next month amid efforts to avoid another "train crash" over the issue, a senior official said.

Members of the General Synod meeting in York are to be asked to back plans which could mean final approval for female bishops by 2015.

women bishops

A vote to allow women bishops was defeated last year

The move comes after the shock defeat of legislation to introduce women bishops at the General Synod in November.

New proposals supported by the Church of England bishops would make allowances for traditionalists who oppose women bishops, but there would no longer be any dioceses where none of the serving bishops ordains women as priests.

Under the plans, the bishops would be asked to draw up arrangements for opponents of the move.

Final approval could be given to the new legislation by either July or November 2015 - with the first female bishop appointed possibly by 2016.

General Synod members will meet in private on 6 July at York University to discuss the proposals before a full debate two days later.

Earlier legislation to introduce women bishops was derailed by a minority of lay members of the General Synod in November. This was in spite of support for the legislation from nearly three-quarters of General Synod members and the overwhelming majority of the Church of England dioceses.

women bishops vote

There was great disappointment amongst senior clergy after the vote in November

The bishops have already spoken of the "profound and widespread sense of anger, grief and disappointment" felt by many in the Church of England and beyond over the failure.

The bishops said the new proposals they backed - known as "option one" out of four set out by a working group - would "rely least on law and place the greatest emphasis on trust".

After the vote in November, the new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said it had been a 'grim day' but insisted that women bishops would be a reality.

"The Church has voted overwhelmingly in favour of the principle. It is a question of finding a way that there is a real consensus that this is the right way forward," he said at the time.

William Fittall, secretary general of the General Synod, described the failure of the legislation in November as a "train crash".

"The working group and the House of Bishops are both very clear that they want a process which this time is going to lead to legislation getting the necessary majority," he said.

"One train crash is extremely bad but two would be quite unacceptable."