A BISHOP has said he is “hugely disappointed” at the decision not to allow women to become bishops.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, spoke after the proposals were passed through the Houses of Bishops and clergy in the General Synod but failed to gain the necessary two-thirds majority amongst lay members.

If six people had changed their vote from no to yes in the House of Laity the legislation would have received the necessary two-thirds majority.

Bishop Stephen said: “I am hugely disappointed that the General Synod has not given its approval to the Women Bishops’ Measure.

“It is clearly the mind of the Church of England that we have women bishops but for some reason our synodical structures cannot yet deliver this. Although I respect those who voted against, I continue to believe that this measure gave them ample provision.

“Please pray for the Church of England and especially for our women clergy who will feel a great sense of rejection as a result of this decision.”

The vote was billed as the biggest in the 20 years since the General Synod backed the introduction of women priests in 1992 and comes after 42 out of the 44 dioceses of the Church of England backed the legislation.

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, who leaves his post at the end of this year after a decade in office, spoke of his "deep personal sadness" at the result.

He added: "Of course I hoped and prayed that this particular business would be at another stage before I left, and course it is a personal sadness, a deep personal sadness, that that is not the case.

"I can only wish the Synod and the archbishop all good things and every blessing with resolving this in the shortest possible time."