In the fallout [over the recent vote on Women Bishops], the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, in an interview with this newspaper, urged Justin Welby, the incoming archbishop, to push through reform regardless, and there were mutterings in the Shadow Cabinet of changing the law so the Church would no longer be immune to charges of sexual discrimination. Hitchiner, though, “shocked” and “sad” as she was, and critical as she is of the overrepresentation in General Synod of people “on the more conservative end of the spectrum”, and the disproportionate amount of airtime they were given “to go back to discussions that were being held 20 years ago about why they felt uncomfortable with the idea of women priests”, says that she is wary of tampering with the system: “I think we stuck to the system and nothing went wrong. That’s the most frustrating thing. I would be happier in the long run without changing the system, without making special arrangements.”
The appointment of women bishops is, she thinks, an “unstoppable train. It is bound to happen.” She feels torn, she says. “As a feminist I believe that women shouldn’t be held back from anything. Women have worked very hard, whether they’re religious or not, to make sure that is the case. But having said that, I also think that if the Church is dictated to by society or the State it ceases to be a church.”
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