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New bishop branded out of date over vote on women
The new Bishop of Chichester was one of just three senior clergymen to vote against the proposal for female bishops.
Dr Martin Warner, who was enthroned last Sunday (November 24), was branded “out of touch” after it emerged that he was among the three bishops, out of a total of 47, opposing the move last week.
Although Dr Warner is known in the church for his views against the ordination of women, campaigners still described his decision as “extremely disappointing”.
Ali Ghanimi, from the Feminist Brighton group, said: “I’ve heard the argument from both sides that this is about religious doctrine. But if an organisation is deliberately selecting against women then that is against the law of the land – it’s as simple as that.
“I think it is absolutely shocking. Those who voted against it are just out of date and out of touch.”
The vote was decided by the General Synod of the Church of England, which is made up of the three main houses: bishops, clergy and the laity.
A proposal needs a two-thirds majority in each house to pass.
Short of votes
Forty-four of the 47 bishops voted in favour, along with 148 of the 193 clergy.
However just 132 of the 206 laity voted in favour – leaving it six votes short.
Christian and former Argus columnist Jean Calder said she was disappointed with church bosses for appointing someone who was so well-known for being against the ordination of female bishops.
She said: “It is misogyny rather than theology that lies at the root of most opposition to female priesthood.
“The Diocese of Chichester has a reputation for being one of the most misogynist, therefore it’s hardly surprising that it helped lead the charge against women bishops.
“It’s ironic, because given the problems with the male bishops they have appointed, you might think they’d jump at the chance of getting some women.”
When approached by The Argus, Dr Warner, who heads the church in Sussex, declined to comment on why he voted against the move.
However, he made reference to the vote in his enthronement sermon at Chichester Cathedral last Sunday.
Addressing the congregation and dignitaries, he said that the vote had had a “damaging effect to the Church of England’s self-confidence and national reputation”.
He added: “Although the temptation to apportion blame is a dangerous one, perhaps we can observe that the political processes of the General Synod have not delivered for us a reliable way of finding consensus on how to attain the goal of including women in the episcopate.”
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