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Church challenged to 'lead the way' on women bishops

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 22, 2012

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A FORMER bishop has called on the Church in Wales to appoint women bishops — but a Swansea vicar has warned against any rush towards such a move.

Leading church theologian and former bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, said the Anglican church in Wales should "take the lead" on the issue after the Church of England voted against appointing women bishops.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Swansea-raised outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, said the failed vote had lost The Church of England "a measure of credibility".

Speaking to the synod yesterday, the day after the vote, Dr Williams added: "Whatever the motivations for voting yesterday, whatever the theological principle on which people acted and spoke, the fact remains that a great deal of this discussion is not intelligible to our wider society — worse than that, it seems that we are willfully blind to some of the trends and priorities in that wider society."

The Church in Wales rejected appointing women bishops in a vote in 2008, but Lord Harries said it was now time for Welsh Anglican leaders to think again.

He said: "I think it would be very interesting and salutary if the Church in Wales over the next year or two had women bishops and the Church of England didn't.

"It would be good to see the Church in Wales giving us a lead on this."

Father Tim Williams, the vicar of Killay, said that although he felt it only a matter of time before women were appointed bishops, to do so first in Wales ahead of the rest of the Church of England could be seen as "inflammatory".

He said: "I think it is inevitable there will be women bishops.

"There is a lot of hurt on behalf of the people who lost the vote, but there would have been a lot of hurt if it had gone the other way as well.

"If the Church in Wales went ahead and appointed women bishops just to be the first to do so, I think it would be burning coals on the heads of women in England — it could be very inflammatory.

"We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and need to see where we go from here.

"There are lots of cries about the church losing its credibility within the world. I am not convinced of that 100 per cent.

"A lot of serving clergy came into the church before the ordination of women.

"A generation down the line, I don't think it is going to be a problem. But we need to make sure people who can't accept it are catered for.

"It might sound pious, but I wonder if the holy spirit guided the people who chose the Rt Rev Justin Welby to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury, with his gifts of reconciliation, to lead us.

"I think the church needs to get things right with God first, rather than the world.

"And it needs to remember that Jesus was someone who was not afraid to go against the social norms of the day."

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