(Photo: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)
The General Synod of the Church of England deferred on Monday a final vote on whether to allow ordination of women bishops after traditionalists proposed a last-minute amendment.
The governing body of the global Anglican Communion's mother church voted Monday to hold further deliberations on a last-minute proposal that traditionalist parishes be allowed access to an alternative male bishop who shares their views about women clergy, Agence France Presse reported.
The amendment proposed at the meeting at the University of York angered senior female clergy of the church, who said it would reduce them to "second-class bishops."
As many as 288 members voted in favor of an adjournment, 144 against and 15 abstained. A final vote is now likely in November when the synod meets next.
The house of bishops, one of the three houses of the General Synod, has been asked to take another look at the measure when it meets in mid-September.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the church, was quoted as saying that the adjournment was aimed at "lowering the temperature" over the debate between the traditionalists and the liberals. "It is quite clear that the reaction cannot be ignored," he said. "When there is a reaction of real hurt and offence in the Church, Christians, and Christian pastors in particular, cannot afford to ignore it."
Proposing the adjournment, the Bishop of Dover, Trevor Willmott, said, "Leaving here with unfinished business will feel like an anti-climax." However, he added, "there are worse things than unfinished business. To leave here having driven this legislative process over the cliff would be the worst of all outcomes."
The Church of England approved women priests about two decades ago.
Opponents of the last-minute amendment appear to be determined and hopeful. "I would infinitely prefer it to go back to the bishops to give them one more chance rather than defeat it now," Jean Mayland, the first woman to be ordained a priest in 1994, told Reuters. "Maybe in November we will still have to defeat it, but we have to keep on hoping, praying and trusting."