Bishops of the Church of England are to ban visiting Anglican women priests who have been ordained in overseas parts of the Anglican Communion. They have done so after taking legal advice.
Lawyers told them that as it was the custom of the Church over many years to ordain men only this practice had the force of law and that the provisions for the overseas clergy could not be taken as referring to women as well as men.
The situation has arisen because the Anglican Church in Canada is about to ordain its first women priests. Its sister body, the United States Episcopalian Church, is to make a final decision concerning women priests at its September convention.
Dr Una Kroll, who leads the Women's Ordination Campaign, has said she felt it was churlish of the Church of England bishops to take the attitude they did. Last July the General Synod of the Church of England voted by 255 to 180 that there was no fundamental objection to women's ordination.
The size of the minority vote indicates that there is a sharp division of opinion within the Synod which may become more pronounced when it comes to making a final decision.