Whose views carry the most weight?

Leading article: The Church would do well to learn from Elizabeth I

Monday, 7 July 2008 THE INDEPENDENT

'The prize of unity is worth fighting for.'

Dr Rowan Williams, is surely right at least to attempt to hold the ring. Unity is preferable to a schism. If a deal acceptable to all sides can be achieved, it should be energetically and tirelessly pursued. And it is by no means an impossible task. The Church of England's leadership is attempting to hammer out a deal on special arrangements for those Anglicans who feel that their consciences would be offended by being preached to by female bishops.

Appeasing the hardliners will be difficult. And a rival grouping, headed by female clergy, is also warning that it will not back any deal that proposes discriminatory laws. Yet there would seem to be a way through. Those who have a problem with the authority of women bishops should be encouraged to attend churches under the control of male bishops. This kind of discreet, ad hoc "parish-swapping" already takes place in areas where there are women priests.

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