Rejection of Women Bishops Damaged Anglicans' Reputation, Bishop Says

As he was enthroned as Bishop of the Church of England Diocese of Chichester on Sunday, the traditionalist Rt. Rev. Dr. Martin Warner said in his sermon that last Tuesday's General Synod decision against allowing women to serve as bishops damaged the Church's reputation.

The outcome of the Nov. 20 vote had a "damaging effect [on] the Church of England's self-confidence and national reputation," The Telegraph quoted Bishop Warner as saying. "We now have to face some very uncomfortable facts that will implicate us all in a review of our decision-making processes as a Church."

While urging people not to "apportion blame" for the outcome, the bishop added, "Perhaps we can observe that the political processes of the General Synod have not delivered for us a reliable way of finding consensus on how to attain the goal of including women in the episcopate, which is undoubtedly the earnest desire of the majority of people in the Church of England."

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He said the Church needed to figure out a way "to set about our mission and rebuilding trust and understanding."

While Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who is due to retire in December, was advocating for the ordination of women bishops, the two-thirds majority needed to pass the legislation at General Synod was narrowly missed last Tuesday.

The vote in the House of Laity came down to 132 in favor of women bishops to 74 against, according to The Associated Press. In a separate vote, bishops voted 44 in favor and 3 against, while the rest of the clergy voted 148 in favor verses 45 against – so although most Anglican officials were in favor of the proposal, the crucial two-thirds majority was not met, falling short at 64 percent, or only six votes.

Church officials say it might take a minimum of five years before a new vote on the issue can be put on the table.

The Rev. Justin Welby, who is set to take over from Rowan Williams in March 2013 as Archbishop of Canterbury, has said that the Church of England will soon have women bishops, despite losing in a crucial vote. "It's clear those women are going to be bishops in the Church of England," Reuters quoted him as saying. "It was a pretty grim day for the whole church. There is a lot to be done but I am absolutely confident that at some point I will consecrate a woman bishop."

Traditionalists argue that all of Christ's 12 disciples were men, and the Bible doesn't support female bishops. Progressives, on the other hand, ask if women can be appointed as clergy in Anglican churches, why can't they serve as bishops.

Bishop Warner has also said he will not personally ordain women as priests, but he distinguishes between his own beliefs and the wishes of the wider church. In his address to the Synod last week he indicated that while he would vote against the measure, he would make it work in his diocese if it were passed.

At the Sunday service in Chichester Cathedral in the Province of Canterbury, Warner was enthroned by a woman, the Venerable Sheila Watson, the Archdeacon of Canterbury, who performs enthronements on behalf of Rowan Williams.

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