This Issue Is Causing ‘Profound Mystification and Unhappiness’ in the Church of England

LONDON (TheBlaze/AP) — The Church of England’s governing body has voted to restart the process of allowing women bishops following a widespread backlash over the failure of such legislation last year.

Members of the General Synod said Monday they would back plans to draft new proposals paving the way for women bishops in July or November 2015.

This development comes after some major set-backs on this front. In the latest development, negotiations on women bishops collapsed in November following a failed vote among senior church members.

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – JUNE 28: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (C) speaks during his visit to the church of the Holy Sepulchre on June 28, 2013 in Jerusalem’s Old City, Israel. The Most Reverend Justin Welby is on a five-day tour of Egypt and the Holy Land to visit a number of leaders and famous sites. Credit: Getty Images

Rev. Nigel Stock said last year’s decision had caused “profound mystification and unhappiness” in the church and dealt a serious blow to female members of the clergy. Women can become priests.

The renewed push to introduce women bishops comes after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, spoke of the “significant absence of trust” over the issue within the church’s governing body.

In May, the church put out a statement, noting that it is committed to finding ways to allow women to serve as bishops. Here’s that release:

“At its meeting in York the House of Bishops of the Church of England has committed itself to publishing new ways forward to enable women to become bishops.

In its discussion on the issue of women in the episcopate, the House received and approved for publication the report from the Working Group on Women in the Episcopate which was set up on 11 December to prepare new legislative proposals following the General Synod’s rejection of the last legislation on 20 November 2012.

The report of the Working Group presented four new options as a way forward and proposed that the General Synod should consider those options at its meeting in July. The Working Group also proposed a timetable which would involve the legislation starting its formal stages in the Synod in November and receiving Final Approval in 2015.

The House of Bishops has agreed that the report of the Working Group should be published with a separate report from the Archbishops on behalf of the House setting out the House’s recommendations to the General Synod.  The House has also asked the Business Committee of the General Synod to arrange for a substantial amount of time to be available at the General Synod in July for facilitated conversations in small groups before the Synod comes to a decision on the way forward.

The House also approved the necessary changes in its standing orders to ensure the attendance of senior women clergy at its meetings. These changes were proposed following the House’s decision at its meeting in December to ensure the participation of senior female clergy in its meetings until such time as there are six female members of the house, following the admission of women to the episcopate.”

Female priests, however, have been ordained since 1994. While proponents of female bishops believe that the development is encouraging, the journey ahead could be a long one. The process really has just begun.