After a special service at Westminster Abbey, the Queen is to open the Church of England's general synod.

The synod - the Church's legislative body - is the only institution outside Parliament that can make laws, even if it does have to get its decisions approved by a special parliamentary committee. One of the most important laws likely to emerge in the synod's five-year term starting on Tuesday is the introduction of women bishops. It has already been a debate that has deeply divided traditionalists from progressives, and led some on the Catholic wing of the Church to say they will take up the Pope's offer of a place in the Roman Catholic Church.

To many outside the Church - and to some Anglicans as well - so much anguish and dispute over what they regard as a logical progression from the ordination of women priests 16 years ago is unaccountable. But for traditionalists - from both Anglo-Catholic and Protestant backgrounds - there is something fundamental at stake. Some see it as part of a struggle for the soul of the Church, suggesting that the future starting with this new synod will bring in a more liberal Anglicanism which has less time for traditionalist values. They point to the growing "feminisation" of the Church as a cause for concern.

The Reverend Peter Sanlon is the curate of St Ann's in Tottenham, an evangelical church in north London. He understands the Bible as supporting "male headship", a natural role for men as leaders of their own households and the Church alike. He says he would be reluctant to serve under a woman bishop, but his real concern is that the growing influence of women clergy will result in the ordination of openly gay bishops.

"While it's not true of every woman, in general more women are supportive of permitting homosexuality," he says.

"So in general statistical terms, the more women who are promoted to positions of leadership like that, the greater problem there will be in holding the line and defending the traditional views of morality in that area as well."



  1. It has been my experience in life that, unless there is a mighty ocean between them and you, it is always best to be careful what you say about women, whatever ones personal taste in frocks.

  2. “While it’s not true of every woman, in general more women are supportive of permitting homosexuality.”

    Does he mean same-gendered relationships, sex, or both?

  3. “lead to the femininization of the church” indeed. Hey, you in the lace, I, a woman, do not wear lace like that. Even my alb is stark staring plain. Can someone – MP, you’re what we call Anglo-Catholic – can you explain how it is that men came to wear women’s tat to serve the Lord whose maleness is their model for the priesthood and their rationale for barring us women from it? I really want to know. Cuz even our local high church priest doesn’t wear this stuff.
    And if I get in trouble with my own church for posting this question, just remember that in jurisprudence, Peter Sanlon opened the door to my very reasonable response and question.
    Oh bother, clearly I need the holiday time off coming up.

  4. Well that’s all right, MP, so long as you realize it, the feminisation bit that is, not that you wear a bit of lace ( ! ). Actually, SCG said better what I wanted to say but let my ire take over. I can’t even bear to read my own comment!

    oh jeez, the wv is “haversuc”. “Nuff said.

  5. You know, I’d like to see more female priests dolly themselves up in a nice bit of lace. At the moment most of them seem intent on dressing like middle managers in the banking sector and coming across as far too butch (which, I hasten to add, is fine and appropriate if they are butch, but not very imaginative if they party after work in a nice little black number and immaculate make up).