THE Bishop of Chester supports the consecration of women bishops but wants more time for a consensus to emerge within the Church of England.
The Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster made his view clear in the light of a vote by the ruling General Synod Church to press ahead with the ordination of women bishops but without the safeguards demanded by traditionalists.
The synod members voted to approve work on a national statutory code to accommodate those in the Church who object to women bishops.
The Bishop’s spokesman Stephen Regan said: “He is not opposed to the consecration of women bishops and he himself ordains women into the priesthood but he thinks there needs to be more time for reflection to allow for a wider consensus to emerge.”
In 2005 Bishop Peter signed an open letter calling for further theological reflection before the way is paved for women to become bishops.
He was among 17 bishops to sign the letter in advance of a meeting discussing the removal of legal impediments for the ordination of women as bishops.
And he offered his personal views on the subject in an address to the Chester Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship.
Bishop Peter said: “The keynote for me needs to be patience. Although I did not have a vote in 1992, I would have voted for the measure which permitted the ordination of women as priests/presbyters.”
He added: “To ordain women as bishops would, in my present view, be to make a statement about the reception of women in the ordained ministry which cannot yet be made.
“When the question of the ordination of women as priests was decided, I judged that if a two-thirds majority could be achieved in each House of the General Synod, it would indicate an underlying acceptance in the Church of around 75%.
“If and when we face the same question over the ordination of women as bishops, although the legally required majorities will also be two-thirds in each House, overall I would look for around a 90% level of acceptance in the Church, which I do not believe yet exists.
“We need to be patient, to listen carefully and prayerfully to what God is saying in this matter.”