The Church in Wales yesterday rejected a Bill which would have allowed women to be ordained as bishops.
The measure was voted down by just three votes.
Archbishop Barry Morgan spoke of his “deep disappointment” that the plans failed to gain the required backing of two thirds of the clergy at the meeting of the church’s governing body.
The Archbishop said, “I am deeply disappointed, obviously it hasn’t gone through. Having said that, it’s not an issue that’s going to go away.”
He added, “Had we been willing as bishops to compromise and have an assistant bishop in the constitution to look after those who in conscience were opposed to the ordination of women, the Bill would have sailed through. But I think we would have compromised our principles. I think it would have been disastrous for the Church in Wales.”
Giles Fraser, founder of the Inclusive Church group and an Ekklesia associate told the Times newspaper: “It’s an absolute disgrace. If women are good enough to be priests they are good enough to be bishops. Anything other than this is a theological nonsense.”
Canon Jeremy Winston, the vicar of Abergavenny, said that bishops had failed to give concrete assurance to those opposed to female bishops that they would be provided for.
He said, “I just feel very strongly people wanted some greater degree of clarity, a greater degree of assurance, and I think that wasn’t forthcoming.
“Amongst many people who were opposed and against the ordination of women bishops, and indeed women priests, there is nonetheless acknowledgement that it will eventually happen, but they have certainly to tie it down, I think, in terms of provision.”
Voting was split into three separate sections, the House of Laity, the House of Clerics and the House of Bishops.
The first woman was ordained in January 1997 and there are now a total of 160 women priests out of 696 Church in Wales clerics.
The decision yesterday was in contrast to other parts of the world where the Anglican Church has passed legislation allowing women to be ordained as bishops.
These include Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada and the United States – but not England.