Church of England faces exodus over women bishop reforms
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones
Religious Affairs Correspondent
The church of England faces a mass exodus of priests and worshippers after plans were approved to allow women to become bishops without protection for traditionalists.
At a confidential meeting, bishops narrowly voted to proceed with the historic reforms and to resist pressure to create separate dioceses free of women clergy.
The decision will dismay hundreds of priests who could defect to the Roman Catholic Church, which refuses to ordain women. It was taken at a meeting of about 50 members of the House of Bishops, at a hotel in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, last week, and has set the stage for a showdown with traditionalists when the General Synod, the Church's parliament, is next convened, in July.
During the meeting, the bishops were deeply divided over ways of solving the issue, which has engulfed the Church in bitter debate for decades. Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, argued that making women bishops could exclude from the Church those opposed to the idea, unless proper provisions were made for them. the rest