Women to Attend Church of England Bishops' Meetings
Women clergy will be allowed to attend meetings of the bishops who lead the Church of England for the first time in response to the vote to block women from becoming bishops, it was announced on Friday.
At least eight senior women clergy will attend and speak at meetings of the House of Bishops, although they will not be allowed to vote.
The move has been taken as England's state church deals with the fall-out from the failed attempt to create women bishops in November last year.
In its biggest decision since backing the introduction of women priests 20 years ago, just enough lay members of the Church voted against the measure to defeat it, following years of wrangling between traditionalists and liberals.
Supporters of the planned change said one reason for its defeat was the failure of the House of Bishops to consult women clergy about drafting appropriate legislation to accommodate traditionalists who do not want to worship under a woman bishop.
The decision on female clergy was made during a special meeting of the House of Bishops, one of the three houses of the General Synod, the Church's national assembly, at Lambeth Palace in London.
In a statement the Church said: "The House of Bishops of the CofE has today expressed its encouragement and support for new robust processes and steps in bringing forward to General Synod the necessary legislation to consecrate women to the episcopate.
"It decided that until such time as there are six female members of the House, following the admission of women to the episcopate, a number of senior women clergy should be given the right to attend and speak at meetings of the House as participant observers."
The issue of women bishops will be put before the general synod in July, when modernizers hope to take steps to rectify what they regard as an embarrassing episode.