Bishop of Chichester votes against landmark move for women in the church

The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Reverend Dr Martin Warner
The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Reverend Dr Martin Warner

THE Bishop of Chichester was one of only two in the country to vote against this week’s landmark move which allowed women to become bishops in the Church of England for the first time, the Observer understands.

On Monday, its ruling General Synod gave approval to legislation allowing the ordination of women after gaining the required two-thirds majority vote.

The Observer understands that the 
Rt Rev Dr Martin Warner was one of 
two members of the House of Bishops to vote against the change, with 37 in 
favour and one abstention, despite him saying the decision would ‘widely be greeted with huge relief’.

The House of Clergy voted 162 in favour, 25 against and four abstentions. The crucial vote in the House of Laity went 152 in favour, 45 against and five abstentions.

The previous vote in November 2012 was backed by the House of Bishops – with Dr Warner among three bishops to oppose it – and Clergy, but it was scuppered by just six votes cast by traditionalist lay members.

At the time Dr Warner received criticism from the local clergy for opposing the move, with one church minister boycotting his enthronement ceremony.

In a statement after this week’s historic move, Dr Warner said: “The General Synod decision to proceed with the Measure that will provide for the ordination of women as bishops will widely be greeted with huge relief, ending a prolonged period of uncertainty and introspection in the Church of England.

“Across the whole of society, today’s decision will be received as an overwhelming affirmation of women, 
and their dignity, of their ordained ministry and the gifts that God has given the Church through them.

“But the vote also embraces commitment to Conservative Evangelicals and traditionalist Anglo-Catholics who are troubled in their theological conscience by this development as having a legitimate and assured place within the Church Of England. The legislative package that has been agreed is reinforced by the House of Bishops’ Declaration that contains the five principles outlining how our future life should be shaped as a church committed to the worship of God, the work of evangelism, and our commitment to the common good in society.”