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Last Updated: Monday, 16 January 2006, 12:29 GMT
Head-to-head: Women bishops plan
Women priest
Women have served as priests for over a decade
A Church of England group has devised a compromise designed to allow the ordination of women bishops without causing a split in the Church. But traditionalists' calls for a separate "province" free of women clergy has been rejected.

The Bishop of Fulham John Broadhurst and Christina Rees, chair of the Women and the Church group, discussed the issue on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.


I don't think it is the end of it. [The plan] is pretty well what we've got at the moment - bishops for those who can't accept women priests.

The difficulty, I think, is that they haven't talked to us. They're coming up with a proposal - I gather the bishops are not unanimous about it - but there is quite a serious problem.

Are people like me to be driven out of the Church of England or not? And if people want to provide for us they really do have to talk to us.

If this was a commercial company we could claim for constructive dismissal

When women were ordained priests, 500 clergy left the Church of England - we don't know how many lay people did, but thousands of lay people.

These are serious issues and Parliament recognised that last time round.

If this was a commercial company we could claim for constructive dismissal and the Church of England cannot possibly argue for a church acting as a worse employer, a worse institution, than any secular one - it's outrageous.

These are not good times for Christianity but the vast majority of Christians in the world do not have women priests. It's a theological issue, it's not a sexist issue and the debate continues.

To present it as secular issue of justice or anything like that would be outrageous. It's an issue of faith.

Bishop John Broadhurst is chairman of the Forward in Faith group.


It will avoid a separate province and that's a great good. It will also have the potential of taking anything discriminatory out of legislation if we draft the legislation properly.

The disappointment is that it still is responding in principle to a theology of taint - that somehow people in touch with the ministry of women bishops, if they ordain someone, it bows to the view that some people consider those ordinations or would consider those ordinations to be invalid.

[A separate province would be] a real cutting off of any meaningful communion between a part of the church and the rest of the church and the good thing is that these proposals avoid that.

It will also have the potential of taking anything discriminatory out of legislation

Four hundred and eighty did leave when women were ordained into the priesthood 10 years ago. Of those, 70 have come back so I think that [a schism] is not going to happen at all.

Perhaps some more will leave but we now have over 2,000 ordained women in the church. Nearly one in five Church of England clergy is female and people have had time if they really are not happy with that.

These proposals will accommodate absolutely everyone except those who really do not want to be in a church where there is the possibility where they may have anything to do with the sacramental ministry of a woman.

In any other profession the views expressed by the bishop would considered not just discriminatory but inflammatory.

The Church is ready and has been ready for years. We have had the discussions and you have been consulted.

The vast majority of people in the church want to go ahead with women bishops...

Christina Rees is a member of the Church of England Synod.


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