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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 January 2006, 13:51 GMT
Split over women bishops deepens
Women priest
Women have served as priests for over a decade
Divisions over whether women can be bishops appear to be deepening within the Anglican Church, as talks over the historic change are due to start.

The House of Bishops is due to examine the proposals on Monday.

A compromise plan is thought to offer parishes who object to women bishops a male traditionalist instead.

But those opposing women bishops are insisting on the creation of a separate division of the church with male-only clergy, the BBC's Robert Pigott said.

And now bishops who advocate the consecration of women and were once prepared to vote for the compromise plan say they intend to push for outright equality for women, with no concessions.

Opposition

In November last year the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, warned against internal tensions over homosexuality and the appointment of women bishops.

Dr Rowan Williams

His comments came months after the Church of England decided to remove the legal blocks stopping women becoming bishops.

He told members of the General Synod they should beware of "poisoning the wells" and ought to conduct debates without hostility.

When women were first ordained Church of England priests in 1994, around 400 Anglican clergy became Roman Catholics in protest.

There are now some 400 female Anglican priests.

Their supporters believe it is illogical and unfair to continue to bar women priests from becoming bishops.

Separate camps

The opposition to women bishops falls into two separate camps.

The catholic wing of the Anglican Church focuses on Jesus' choice only of men to be his apostles, insisting that it is a clear sign that clergy should also be male.

Meanwhile, conservative evangelicals maintain that the Bible prohibits women from leadership in the Church.

Fourteen of the world's 38 Anglican Churches have already decided to allow women bishops.




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