By Trevor Grundy
Religion News Service
LONDON (RNS/ENInews) The contentious issue of women bishops will once again be debated by the Church of England's General Synod when delegates and bishops convene in York on Friday (July 9), years after the issue was first raised.
Christina Rees, a campaigner for the ordination of women bishops in the Church of England, told ENInews, "It's going to be a historic synod. Fifteen hours of debate. That's a marathon by anyone's standards."
Women can be ordained as priests in the Church of England but they may not hold the higher office of bishop, even though the Synod has given support to the principle of changing church law to allow female bishops.
American-born Rees, who is director of the Churchfield Trust, a group dedicated to advancing women's ministries, said the archbishops of Canterbury and York (the church's top two officials), had signaled their intent to amend the women-bishops law to help keep traditionalists from leaving the church.
"I hope that none of the amendments change that really important principle of `yes' to women bishops," she said. "However, if it is voted down, or it doesn't go through, we will have to pick up the pieces and start again in November," when a new General Synod begins.
Religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill, writing in The Times of London newspaper, reported that one of Britain's leading women rabbis, Alexandra Wright, had written to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, urging him "for goodness sake" to get on with ordaining women bishops.
Wright said that since women were ordained, "We find ourselves besieged by young families."
The rabbi told Gledhill, "Considering the dominant force of male leadership and authority in rabbinic Judaism ... it might be surprising to learn that the roof has not caved in."