- (Photo: AP / Alastair Grant, file)
A final vote by the Church of England on women bishops is set to go ahead in July, although protests from liberals this week threatened to push it back further.
Traditional voices within the Anglican community managed to get in some final amendments on Monday on a law being reviewed by the Church over the position of women in the clergy, which has angered liberals who stand in opposition to all-male priests and bishops.
The House of Bishops from the Church of England approved legislature on Monday paving the way for allowing women bishops, but only after including some key amendments for those holding more conservative theological views. Among the exceptions was a provision for those uncomfortable with women bishops to submit themselves to an alternative male bishop if they so choose.
"The legislation now addresses the fact that for some parishes a male bishop or male priest is necessary but not sufficient," the House said in a statement.
"The House rejected more far- reaching amendments that would have changed the legal basis on which bishops would exercise authority when ministering to parishes unable to receive the ministry of female bishops."
Thursday's meeting included a "group of six" Anglican clerics, among them two of the Church's most senior officials, who discussed the final amendments to the legislature that is set to be put forth for approval in July by the Church's parliament, the General Synod, The Express Tribune reported.
The clerics could have delayed the decision by an entire year if they determined the latest amendments changed the draft legislation too much, but instead they chose to keep the law as it is. That decision has angered some liberal Anglicans who believe it has been altered too much in favor of more traditional positions.
The liberals are even threatening to invoke a standing order before the vote and send the amendments back to the House of Bishops for reconsideration.
"I can envisage some of the supporters of women bishops saying 'sorry, I can't have this: it's better to wait, otherwise we're building up trouble for ourselves in the future'," said Sally Barnes of the pro-women bishops campaign group Women and the Church (WATCH).
Traditionalist Anglicans, however, position that Jesus Christ's apostles were all men, and there is no reason to change the law to support women bishops.