Women bishops issue stirs up debate in south Croydon churches
RELIGIOUS leaders and churchgoers in the South of the borough are laments the Church of England's decision to veto the right for women to become bishops.
"Disappointment", "anger", "despair" and "shooting ourselves in the foot" – all expressions used by churchgoers and their leaders following Tuesday night's rebuttal as they raised fears of irreparable damage among the South's healthy religious following.
So strong were the emotions of the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Rev Jonathan Clark, took to his blog moments following the decision to condemn the ruling, also expressing fear women "will never get the chance" to climb the hierarchy.
He posted: "The sun has gone down, and I am still angry. Not angry with those who voted against the legislation (how can I be angry with someone else's conscience?), but angry that there are women called to episcopal ministry who will never get the chance.
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"Angry at the damage that will be done to the church and its mission, both because of the absence of those gifts, and also because of our inability to welcome the gift God offers to us."
The diocese of Southwark, representing Church of England parishes across the borough, was one of 42 from 44 dioceses across the country which lent its backing to women bishops.
Its leader, Rev Christopher Chessun, said he has already written to all clergy within the diocese expressing he is "deeply saddened" by the result.
Bishops and clergy which make up the General Synod voted in favour of the move, but laity members failed to reach a two-thirds majority, meaning the proposal was rejected.
Votes of approval from two-thirds of members for all three groups was needed in order for suffrage to be extended.
Carol Walsh, of St Barnabas church, Purley, said: "We are shooting ourselves in the foot really, if you want to recruit good people and then you say to them 'you can't', it's disappointing.
" The Anglican Church couldn't cope without women. They do everything. We have had women priests here who clearly had their minds set on higher things and why shouldn't they?
"We had one woman who wanted to be the first female Archbishop of Canterbury. There shouldn't be a distinction between the two [men and women]."
However, Rev Charles Trefusis, of Christ Church in Purley, took a slightly different view. Although "disappointed" at the outcome and in support of women bishops, he felt the legislation drawn up did not accommodate those who cannot accept female bishops for "theological reasons."
He said: "the vote was going to fail whichever way it went. The division has been caused by those creating the legislation. There should have been alternative provision for those that had an issue with women bishops for theological reasons. But this wasn't provided on this occasion."