THE Bishop of Chester has gone silent after plans to reintroduce 'heresy trials' - which he supported - were defeated.
The tribunals could have suspended or even defrocked priests or bishops who promoted beliefs at odds with the Church's teaching.
At the Church of England's Synod meeting in York on Saturday, July 10, the whole thing came down to just four votes.
Lay members of the Synod voted for the new courts by a margin of two to one, and the bishops were heavily in favour.
Only the clergy were undecided. Previously, the Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster said there was no intention of dragging more clergy into conformity to a strict doctrinal line, but said it was necessary to have some sanction against the few who defy the rules.
Dr Forster, who even led a working party on the issue, said some sanction was needed for rebel clergy.
Punishments suggested by him included defrocking or a series of reprimands.
However, since being defeated, Dr Forster has gone silent and this week declined to speak to The Chronicle on the subject.
His spokesman Stephen Regan said: 'The Bishop of Chester introduced (spoke for) at Synod (and therefore supported) the proposal to create a clergy discipline (doctrine) measure.
'That measure is what many in the media are representing as heresy trials, but really that's an exaggeration.
'As you know, the proposal fell because the House of Clergy voted it down. So now it is back to the drawing board and nothing will happen for a long time.'
Asked whether the Bishop was willing to comment on why the proposed trials had been defeated, Mr Regan said: 'I spoke to the Bishop shortly after the clergy discipline (doctrine) vote.
'I'm afraid he will not be giving any more interviews on the subject for the foreseeable future.'