Church of England rejects proposal for female bishops

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LONDON -- The Church of England Synod on Tuesday voted down a measure to consecrate women as bishops, ending for now 12 years of debate on a question that has caused deep divisions between traditionalists and liberals and caused some members to flee to the Roman Catholic Church.

The 470 participants of the annual synod were divided into three houses -- bishops, clergy and laity, with a two-thirds majority in each house needed to pass the resolution. While a wide majority of bishops and clergy voted in favor, the laity vote, 132-74, caused the motion to fall just short of approval.

Reintroducing the measure, which came 20 years after the ordination of the first female priest, could take five years.

The vote came on the second day of the Synod of Anglican clergy and laity, which meets yearly to take stock and discuss measures and church policy. The session, chaired by presiding Archbishop of York John Sentamu, saw impassioned debate with more than 100 delegates from all three sections voicing their views. It was supported by the church's bishop, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and successor, Durham Bishop Justin Welby, who will take the post early next year.

Bishop Welby declared that female priests have played a powerful role in the church except as bishops. and "it is time to finish the job and vote for this measure."

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