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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 July, 2005, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Women bishops have 'vast support'
Canon Stephen Cottrell
Bishop Cottrell said the Church had to careful with the issue
The Bishop of Reading has spoken out in favour of the Church of England allowing women to become bishops.

Traditionalists have warned that hundreds of clergy could leave for the Roman Catholic Church if woman are ordained as Anglican bishops.

However, Bishop Stephen Cottrell said the change, which the Synod will debate on Monday, would prove very popular.

"My sense is that the vast majority of people in the Church of England do support this," he said.

I'm well aware that many of my brothers and sisters disagree with me on this one
Bishop Stephen Cottrell

Around 400 Anglican clergy became Roman Catholics when women were first ordained as priests in 1994.

Women now make up half of those training as Anglican clergy.

Bishop Cottrell told BBC News: "I'm well aware that many of my brothers and sisters disagree with me on this one.

"So we will have to work carefully at getting this right and, if we do go down this road, explaining why we're doing it and, as far as possible, carrying people with us."

For traditionalists, Jesus' choice only of men to be his disciples, and the 2,000-year-old unbroken chain of male bishops dating from the early Church rule women out of the role.

New Bishop of Reading consecrated
04 May 04 |  Berkshire

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