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Cameron: Church of England needs 'prod'

Nov. 22, 2012 at 1:18 AM   |   Comments

LONDON, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Prime Minister David Cameron Wednesday hinted at taking action to give the Church of England a "sharp prod" towards female bishops.

Cameron was asked in question time about the narrow vote Tuesday in a church synod that rejected allowing female priests to move up to become bishops, The Daily Telegraph reported. One possibility is parliamentary action to subject the church to laws banning discrimination based on gender.

"The Church of England is not like any other church," Ben Bradshaw, a Labor member of Parliament, told the BBC. "The Church of England is established and answerable to Parliament, and if Church of England Synod is not able to save itself then I think Parliament does have a role. The parliamentarians I have spoken to are dismayed. Forty-two out of 44 dioceses supported women's bishops."

Cameron was less specific but said he was "very sad" about the vote. He said he also sympathizes with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who had hoped to leave office with the question settled on the other side.

"I'm very clear the time is right for women bishops, it was right many years ago. They need to get on with it, as it were, and get with the program," Cameron told Parliament. "But you do have to respect the individual institutions and the way they work while giving them a sharp prod."

Chukka Ummuna, another Labor MP and the shadow business secretary, said the vote makes the church look "thoroughly out of touch and out of step." He said it is also ironic given several queens have headed the Church of England, including Queen Elizabeth II.

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