UK minister: Anglican Church must reform

2012-11-24 10:19
Female Church of England clergy walk into the venue of the three-day Church of England General Synod in central London. (File, AFP)

Female Church of England clergy walk into the venue of the three-day Church of England General Synod in central London. (File, AFP)

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London - Britain's Women and Equalities Minister Maria Miller said the Church of England needs to reform itself and act swiftly to introduce women bishops, in an interview published on Saturday.

England's state church failed to pass the necessary legislation in a vote on Tuesday, the measures not receiving the required two-thirds backing in all three houses of the 470-member General Synod.

Though the bishops and the clergy backed the measure in sufficient numbers, those elected to represent the lay churchgoers did not, the plans falling short by six votes.

Some 42 of the 44 Church of England dioceses back the change.

That has focused attention on the church's procedures and whether it reflects modern England.

"If you're going to tackle the problem, I think the church needs to be answering some of the questions as to why their system works the way it does, and are they really happy that it's reflective of the views of their membership," Miller, also the culture secretary, told The Guardian newspaper.

"It's important that the church tackles this.

"It's extraordinary that the church seems to have ended up in a situation where a vote that was taken doesn't seem to be reflective of the overwhelming view of the members of the church.

"It's for the Church of England to run its own procedures and processes, but I hope that they have heard, loud and clear, the strength of feeling on this, and that it acts quickly."

The Church of England has "undoubtedly" lost credibility after voting to reject the appointment of women bishops, its leader the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Wednesday.

Rowan Williams accused elements inside the church of being "wilfully blind" to the trends of wider society after its governing body, the General Synod, failed to pass the legislation by a razor-thin margin.

Tuesday's vote followed years of wrangling between traditionalists and liberals that exposed bitter divisions in the 85-million strong worldwide Anglican communion, as well as in its mother church.

Read more on:    rowan williams  |  uk  |  religion  |  gender equality
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