The Church of England voted last night to consecrate women bishops, despite opposition from traditionalist clergy and following a heated six-hour debate.

The Church’s General Synod faced a six-hour debate on women bishops last night in York, followed by a vote of the 468 members of the Synod.

The vote turned out in favour of consecrating women bishops, with few concessions built in, such as the creation of ‘super-bishops’ that would work to help those who objected to women bishops.

The Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester, said the step could lead to defections from the church, and called the final vote ‘mean-spirited and short-sighted’.

‘The manifest majority was profoundly short-sighted,’ he said. ‘At every point it could have offered reassurances, and it did not do that.’

Prior to the final vote, the Bishop of Durham called for a postponement of the decision, but this was over-ruled.

Rt Rev Stephen Venner, the Suffragan Bishop of Dover, broked down in tears after the decision was made, and said: ‘For the first time in my life I am ashamed. We have talked for hours about wanting to give an honourable place for those who want to disagree and we have turned down almost every realistic opportunity for those who are opposed to flourish.’

The Synod bishops voted by 28 to 12 for the motion, the clergy by 124 to 44 and laity by 111 to 68. There were seven abstentions.

The Synod will receive the legislation in February 2009, and it will then be sent to dioceses for approval. A final vote will then require a majority of two thirds from bishops, clergy and laity.

Last night, however, the Church of England voted to consecrate women bishops, despite opposition from traditionalist clergy.

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