Church of England body wants female bishops in 2015

(Photo: Reuters / Luke MacGregor)The new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby arrives for his enthronement ceremony, at Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, southern England March 21, 2013.

The Church of England has released proposals for the approval of ordaining women as bishops by 2015.

Following decades of debate on the issue, the church's General Synod on Friday published on its website new legislative proposals to allow females to take on the duties of bishop.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church will debate the issue in July.

The issue has failed before due to a lack of sufficient support from the laity, although it has the support of clerics.

The proposal marks the Anglican Church's second consecutive effort after draft legislation on the matter failed at a General Synod gathering in November.

Despite a thin majority voting in favor of allowing women to don bishops' garb, the measure still failed due to not reaching a two-thirds majority.

In the intervening time, the House of Bishops established a Working Group to study the issue of female bishops back in December.

(Photo: Church of England)The British monarch Queen Elizabeth II opening the General Synod of the Church of England November 2010.

The reemergence of this debate in the General Synod coincides with the publication of the Working Group's report.

The group urged the Synod to redouble its commitment to admitting women bishops and to conclude its legislation by 2015.

"The present situation is unsustainable and needs to be resolved as early as is practicable for the good of the whole Church of England," its report said.

The Working Group went on to warn the Anglican Church that if it did not act soon that the British Parliament will intervene.

The Church of England is the officially established church in England with the British monarch Queen Elizabeth II as its head. It is also the Mother Church of the 80-million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion.

"[UK] Parliament is impatient," the report reads.

"None of us on the Working Group believes Parliament should impose a solution on the Church of England but the risk of this will grow unless the Synod can show that it can make progress, and quickly."

Bishop Nigel Stock, chairman of the Working Group, said its mandate reflects the view of the House of Bishops.

Stock said it is impractical to expect unanimity on issues of diversity.

However, to gain the largest support, any legislative language on the issue must be written in the most basic and simplistic of terms.

The current proposals for women joining the episcopate enjoy the support of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York John Sentamu, the two highest ranking prelates in the Church of England.

The legislation, which would require every diocese to have a bishop willing to ordain women, will begin debate in the Synod's Business Committee on July 8.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News