Bishop looks forward to promoting women

SUFFOLK'S most senior clergyman says he is sure women will become bishops within the Church of England, despite the move dividing church-goers.

SUFFOLK'S most senior clergyman says he is sure women will become bishops within the Church of England, despite the move dividing church-goers.

Rt Rev Nigel Stock, bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese which has 19,000 regular worshippers, says he knows some people will find women's appointment to the very highest levels within the Church difficult.

But despite the issue of women becoming priests causing a major rift with worshippers leaving the Church of England for the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the senior cleric believes the next step will happen, possibly within five years.

The clergyman, who lives in Ipswich, said: “I am sure women will be consecrated as bishops, but there is also a will to see that there is a place within the Church for those who find this difficult.

“The major decision was taken when women were ordained as priests, the crucial decision was taken ordaining women to the priesthood.

“Once that went through it was right that they should proceed to the episcopate and there are good spiritual reasons for doing this. I realize other people will find that difficult and that is where the area of debate is.

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“There are of course various texts within the Bible that people can go to, but for me theologically I have never had any difficulty with whether women could be ordained. The issue for me was the unity of the Church being maintained.

“In a world that is very fractious and disunited we can show how people with different opinions can live respectfully together. But there is a long road to go and 2014 is the earliest date this could happen and there will be widespread debate for four or five years.”

Thousands of women have been ordained Anglican priests since the decision was taken years ago now and their supporters believe it is illogical and unfair to continue to bar them from becoming bishops.

But the catholic wing of the Anglican Church focuses on Jesus' choice of only men to be his apostles, insisting that it is a clear sign that clergy should also be male. And conservative evangelicals maintain that the Bible prohibits women from leadership within the Church.

Should women, who already serve as priests within the Church of England, be allowed to serve as bishops too? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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