THE Bishop of Ely has described the decision not to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England as “grim”.

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Stephen Conway was speaking just hours after the General Synod, the Church of England’s governing body, voted against a proposal to allow women to take the most senior posts in the church.

In an open address to church goers in the Diocese of Ely, Bishop Stephen said it was “proper for people to vote according to their conscience” but added that the vote “in no way reflected” the will of the great majority of the church.

He said: “I am deeply saddened by the result. I can only imagine what it feels like for you as clergy who are women.

“I commit myself to the urgent movement towards a renewed legislative process during the remaining life of this Synod.

“In the coming days and weeks you and all those who love you and believe in you will be dealing with a range of feelings. There is no short cut through this. At the same time, we shall get on with what God is calling us to. Be assured of my prayers through this time.”

The bishop said he would be meeting with the Bishop of Huntingdon, David Thomson to arrange a date for the female clergy in the Diocese of Ely to meet with them.

The Rev Cannon Fiona Windsor, who advises Bishop Stephen on female ministry in the diocese said the decision was “a heavy blow”

She said: “The no vote has come as a heavy blow to those of us who had hoped, prayed and worked towards the flourishing of God’s ministry in our church for so long.

“In the questions and comments of many in our communities in the coming days and weeks we will be required to speak for a Church which our wider society can little understand and many feel is now ‘out of touch’

“But, despite our own frustrations, we are challenged to remember that we speak not only of a human organisation, but of a God who loves.”

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