Church Proposes Alternative Care for Opponents of Women Bishops

The Church of England published draft legislation on Monday detailing alternative arrangements for those unable to accept the ministry of women bishops.

Under the alternative arrangements, conservative congregations that believe only men may be bishops can petition to receive pastoral care from male complementary bishops.

The Legislative Drafting Group on Women in the Episcopate, chaired by the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt. Rev. Nigel McCulloch, said the special arrangements would come under a new "national code of practice."

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The draft legislation will come up for debate at the next General Synod in London in February and follows an impassioned debate at the York General Synod in July during which alternative measures for opponents of women bishops were rejected.

"We have published our further report at the earliest opportunity to give everyone the chance to study it before debate. We finished our discussions only just before Christmas," said McCulloch.

A covering note to the Drafting Group's report expresses the hope of the House of Bishops that the legislation helps build trust and enables as many people as possible to remain loyal Anglicans.

Some conservative Anglicans have previously warned of an exodus of clergy similar to that seen in 1994 after the ordination of the first women priests. The introduction of women priests prompted the departure of more than 500 clergy, many of whom converted to the Roman Catholic Church, which still holds a strict male-only policy on ministers.

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