As part of preparing for the debate on women bishops legislation, the Bishop of Chichester posed three questions to members of synod. As previously noted, they were:
- Are you in favour of ordaining women to the episcopate in the Church of England?
- Do you think that provision should be made for those who cannot on theological grounds accept this development?
- Do you think that the provisions in the draft Measure are appropriate for this purpose?)
These questions were designed to help synod members consider the views of others, and support them. So, those who may be in favour of women bishops can still indicate support for those who are seeking provision; and conversely those opposed to women in the episcopate, acknowledging there clear majority in the Church of England endorse this, can demonstrate their support in this additional ballot. The following chart doesn’t list all the results of the questions debated, but shows some of the voting pattern.
Though there was almost unanimous support from synod members on all sides for provision for those who cannot accept women bishops, the support for the Church of England to have women bishops from those opposed, was significantly less, at below 60%. And the support for this particular raft of legislation introducing women bishops was even less, and the main motion was lost in each house – by 4% in laity and 5% in clergy.
The 1991 Diocesan Synod votes on Women Priests
By way of a historic comparison, the following chart shows the voting figures for the house of laity and the house of clergy in 1991 on women priests, and in 2011 on women bishops.
In 1991 55% of laity voted in favour, so the motion was passed – but as only 40% of the clergy voted in favour, it was lost in the house of clergy, so lost overall (it has to pass in all houses to be pass).
Though the 2011 vote shows a shift in favour in the clergy vote, moving from 40%-46%; the house of laity were considerably more reluctant to accept this current women bishops legislation, and there was a shift away from 55% in favour in 1991, to only 47%, so the main motion was lost in both houses.
The bishops, though they may vote, for Article 8 General Synod business their vote isn’t considered. The house of bishops can contribute at a later stage in the process at General Synod, and as a body nationally. In these particular votes, all bishops present voted against both women priests, and women bishops.