UPDATE 1-Church of England votes against allowing women bishops

Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:36pm EST

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LONDON Nov 20 (Reuters) - The Church of England voted on Tuesday against legislation that would have allowed the ordination of women bishops, the culmination of more than 10 years of divisive debate, after the proposal failed to win the backing of lay members.

The General Synod, the legislative body of the Church which is made up of separate houses for bishops, clergy and laity, failed to reach the two-thirds majority required in all three houses to pass the measure.

"It was carried in the house of bishops and clergy, but lost in the house of laity. The motion having been lost ... we do not proceed any further," said Archbishop of York John Sentamu.

Women already serve as Anglican bishops in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, but the Church of England, mother church for the world's 80 million Anglicans, has struggled to reconcile the dispute between reformers and traditionalists on whether to allow them in England.

The Church had already voted to allow women bishops in theory but Tuesday's vote, on provisions to be made for conservatives theologically opposed to senior women clergy, needed to pass before women could be enthroned as Anglican bishops in England.

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