City vicar in attempt to block women bishops
WOMEN should not be allowed to become bishops in the Church of England, says a Plymouth vicar.
Prebendary Rod Thomas, vicar of St Matthews in Elburton, has called on members of the church's governing body to today reject a change in the law which would allow women to be ordained as bishops.
Preb Thomas is leading a campaign against plans for the new law, which will be voted on today by the General Synod.
The outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and his replacement the Right Reverend Justin Welby, are in favour of the legislation.
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Preb Thomas, who is chairman of the conservative evangelical group Reform, has called for members to vote against the legislation saying it does not meet the needs of traditionalists.
"The provision [the legislation] makes for people like us is completely inadequate for the longer term," he said.
"We know that it is on a knife-edge. We think that, depending on which way the debate goes, there could be enough people to stop the measure going through."
The synod is divided into three "houses" – bishops, clergy and laity – and the vote needs a two-thirds majority in each house to pass.
Today's vote at Church House, in London, comes 20 years after the church agreed to ordain women as priests.
The first women priests were ordained in 1994, and they now make up about a third of the clergy.
The votes this afternoon are being seen as the first big test for the next Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, who is currently the Bishop of Durham.
He is expected to speak today to urge the synod to support the change. If approved by the synod, the decision will have to be approved by Parliament and gain Royal Assent before the first women bishops could take office in 2014.
The Reform group believes that women and men should have different roles.
They say it is not appropriate for women to take a position of overall leadership, but that men and women should encourage one another in their separate roles.
Women should not be overall leaders, they say, because the church would become feminised.
The move would "distort the created order" and distort the Gospel.
If the synod agrees with to the change, it will also seek to make some provision for those like Preb Thomas who, for theological reasons, will not be able to receive their ministry.