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Church of England votes in favour of women bishops

The Church of England has ruled that women should be able to become bishops, but there will be further discussions in the dioceses, and another Synod vote in a year's time before they can be ordained.

Traditionalist Anglicans who opposed the move had sought exemptions from serving under women bishops and guaranteed access to a male alternative. But the General Synod decided that women bishops should be able to decide the identity of any bishop entering their dioceses and would also be able to dictate the functions these bishops could carry out.

While supporters of the ruling celebrated a breakthrough, some traditionalists left the room in tears.

The Archbishop of Canterbury,  Dr Rowan Williams, and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, had put forward the  compromise plan, which would have allowed parishes unwilling to serve under a woman bishop to call upon the oversight of a male alternative bishop,  serving in a kind of 'joint jurisdiction' over those parishes.

The proposal gained a majority of votes in the synod as a whole, but failed because clergy - who vote separately from lay people and bishops - defeated it by five votes.

Reverend David Houlding, a leading member of the Catholic Group on the General Synod, said he felt traditionalists were running out of options, and would soon be having to make "hard decisions" about their future.

He told the Press Association: "I am staying in the Church of England for the time being until I am driven out. I am not going willingly, I will only go if forced. The more this goes on in this manner, the more it seems as if the door is shutting."

Christina Rees, a member of the General Synod and chairwoman of Women in the Church, said Monday's decision was "very, very good news."