CANTERBURY, England (RNS) The Church of England’s governing body reaffirmed its commitment to consecrate women bishops with the aim of reaching final approval on an issue that has for so long split the church’s ranks no later than November 2015.

justin welby

The Right Rev. Justin Welby, bishop of Durham, was named the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. RNS photo courtesy Durham Cathedral


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Meeting in York July 5-9, the General Synod agreed to consider new draft legislation by November this year.

This is the first time synod members have met since November 2012, when to the surprise of most of the British public, draft legislation to create women bishops narrowly failed to secure the requisite majority.

The meeting marks the first time the new archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is in the hot seat with the question of women as bishops dominating the debate.

The synod is a three-tier structure. Last year’s legislation passed the House of Bishops and the House of Clergy, but failed to gain the required two-thirds majority in the House of Laity.

Even opponents are resigned to women bishops — but they are insisting on firm guarantees they can be looked after by male priests and bishops.

Those supporting women as bishops fear such concessions would mean a woman bishop would not have full authority in her own diocese. In addition, they worry that too much time is being given to people seen to be out of touch on sexual and gender issues in modern-day Britain.

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