The Church of England’s General Synod has gathered in York to debate on whether to allow women bishops.
The church has not faced such a historic and momentous decision since the Church voted in favour of allowing women priests a decade ago. Women now represent a third of priests, but many Anglicans believe the new role of bishop should be open to them, too.
The meetings at York University are due to culminate in a vote on Monday. But pro-women campaigners have protested against a last-minute amendment to the legislation made earlier this year, and are calling for the vote to be postponed.
The dispute is regarding a clause which would cater for traditionalist parishes that may reject the authority of a women bishop. The arrangement would allow such parishes’ access to an alternative, male bishop. However, this has caused outrage among many Anglicans, claiming it would enshrine discrimination against women in law, rendering women bishops inferior.
This has resulted in a group of senior women clergy writing to members of the General Synod, requesting them to adjourn the vote and reconsider the amendment.
A postponement would delay the vote until the end of the year, whilst a defeat signifies that the appointment of women bishops could not happen until 2017.
The Synod needs a two-thirds majority in each of the three houses of the General Synod; representing bishops, laity and clergy.