UPDATE 2-Church of England votes against women bishops

Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:51pm EST
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* Reform measure fails after lay members reject it

* Rejection amounts to test for new archbishop

* Reform postponed for years, women clergy dejected

By Alessandra Prentice

LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - The Church of England voted on Tuesday against allowing women bishops after it failed to win the support of enough lay members for the reform, leaving the Church facing more internal strife over an issue that has divided it for years.

After hours of debate, the General Synod, the Church legislature made up of separate houses for bishops, clergy and laity, fell just short of the two-thirds majority required in all three houses to pass the measure.

"It was carried in the houses of bishops and clergy, but lost in the house of laity. The motion having been lost ... we do not proceed any further," said Archbishop of York John Sentamu.

Some women priests in the public gallery wiped tears from their eyes after Sentamu read out the results. The vote among lay members fell short by just four votes.

"It's crushing for morale, senior women clergy must feel despondent and most bishops and most clergy male or female feel hugely sad and worse than sad, embarrassed and angry," said Christina Rees, a Synod member and former chairman of the advocacy group Women and the Church.   Continued...