Mercury Opinion: A disaster for Church of England
The General Synod's controversial decision to vote against the introduction of women bishops has clearly been a bitter blow to the Bishop of Leicester, along with many other senior figures in the Church of England who supported the proposed move.
In a heartfelt letter to his clergy, Bishop Tim has described Tuesday's vote as a "watershed moment in terms of the relationship between the Church of England and the nation".
This goes to the heart of the matter. The Church of England is not like other faiths. It is established in law as the official church of the state. That means there is a real problem if its values are markedly different from those of the nation.
In terms of sexual equality, Tuesday's vote has created exactly this situation.
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Britain was once a deeply unequal society but over the course of many years this has changed. It is still not perfect by any means but it is a good deal better than it was.
The Church of England has been part of this process. In 1992, the General Synod voted in favour of allowing women to be ordained as priests.
It will seem to many people entirely logical and right that women should also be allowed to progress to the position of becoming bishops, and deeply unfair that this step should be voted down a full 20 years after the church made the historic and progressive step to allow women priests.
Frustratingly, while the majority of those in the Synod's three houses voted in favour of women bishops, the proposed move failed because it did not receive the required two-thirds in the House of Laity.
As the Bishop of Leicester has said in his letter: "I know there will be many who will find this decision incomprehensible."
Quite so. These are difficult times for the Church of England, with the real risk that this setback will encourage the perception that it is no longer relevant in an increasingly secular state. That would be sad indeed as it remains an important part of many people's lives in churches up and down the country. It is a cherished institution and its place in British society is an important one.
It is not clear what will happen now, or when, but we hope that this matter will be addressed again in the near future with a different result.