Women Bishop Supporters 'Devastated' By General Synod Vote

'This Is Not About The Church, This Is About England'

Supporters of the failed legislation to ordain women bishops said they were "devastated" with many saying they felt they had been betrayed by the lay members of the General Synod who voted against it.

At St Matthew's Church in Westminster, where many of those who had taken part in the vote gathered afterwards, there was a sense of great disappointment on Tuesday evening.

The Archbishop of Canterbury had hoped to push the legislation before he left office

Sally Barnes, of the campaign group Watch, said she and her colleagues were "very angry", the Press Association reported.

She said: "My initial reaction is one of deep sorrow at the missed opportunity, especially as we know that the House of Bishops really wanted it to go through.

"The House of Clergy have been really supportive and wanted it to go through, and it failed by just six votes.

"As we suspected it might have been, it was down to a very, very small number in the House of Laity.

"We've always said the House of Laity was unrepresentative of people in the Church and we were right.

"We have always said that the way of voting people into the Synod needs a wider electorate to get a wider representation of views because they've gone against the stated view of the wider Church."

She said those that were against the proposal had failed to appreciate "the enormous generosity of a large number of women priests that supported them in making concession after concession" in the draft legislation.

"We've worked hard for years, there's not much more we could have done," she added.

"We're very angry at the moment and we're going to examine carefully all the votes."

April Alexander, a lay General Synod member from Southwark Diocese, said: "It is the very essence of discrimination.

"It makes me wonder to the extent the General Synod is representative of parishioners at large and I wonder about the voting system if 74% voted in favour but we still lost it.

"What it's saying to women clergy is that the Synod's view is that as a woman they are unworthy of being a priest or a bishop."

The Rev Canon Robert Cotton, from Guildford, said: "There is a lot of fury that we are letting people down.

"This is not about the Church, this is about England.

"Everyone in Parliament has said, 'why don't you get your message out there as the one organisation that can speak to the poor and disadvantaged in England as the Church of England?'

"What we're about is trying to speak to those in most need of help - the youth unemployed, the homeless.

"That's what the Church of England represents, and without the women's voice you can't do that."

Criticising those that voted against it, he added: "That whole debate is about protecting those who are already in the club."

Sources close to culture secretary Maria Miller, who is also equalities minister, said tonight: "Whilst this is a matter for the church, it's very disappointing as we seek to help women fulfil their potential throughout society."


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