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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Looking for the 21st Century

The decision yesterday by the General Synod of the Church of England not to allow women bishops, albeit by a narrow margin, is a huge set back for those who might want to modernise that institution. Even David Cameron, a Conservative Prime Minister, is appalled by the outcome of the vote. I cannot imagine many of his Tory predecessors taking a similar view.

The fact is that the Church of England and the Church in Wales before it, are out of step with the twenty first century. If we can have women priests then why not bishops? The case for disestablishment is even stronger.

It is bad enough having an unreformed second chamber without having to put up with an all-male constituency within it. And goodness knows what the female head of the Church of England thinks of the decision.

David Cameron says that it is time for the Church of England to "get on with it" and reverse its decision to reject female bishops. Perhaps it is time for him to consider changing the constitutional status of that church.
It's democracy. The office-holders, bishops and clergy, were overwhelmingly in favour. It was the men and women in the pews who did not vote "aye" in sufficient numbers. It would be an error IMO for the Westminster government to impose a solution on the CofE. Disestablishment is the more logical answer.

A slight retraction: it appears from today's debate in the House and from a piece in the Independent that the house of laity is not as representative as I assumed. The Indy asserts that evangelicals have manipulated the election procedures to secure a number of places out of proportion to their real numbers.

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