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All eyes on ‘game-changer’ Welby as Church faces final showdown on women bishops

By John Bingham, Telegraph

The incoming Archbishop of Canterbury is preparing a personal plea to traditionalists in the Church of England to “go forward” with the idea of women bishops next week in an attempt to end years of wrangling over the issue.

In what could be one of the most decisive interventions of his leadership – even before he takes over as Archbishop – the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, will urge doubters to back the measure in the name of unity.

The vote at a special session of the Church’s General Synod in London will be the first test of his authority as chosen successor to Dr Rowan Williams.

Although there is overwhelming support in the Church for women in the episcopate, the vote is expected to be on a knife-edge because it would take only a small number to deny the measure the two thirds majority it needs in all three parts of the Synod.

But Bishop Welby’s vocal endorsement of the measure last week, moments after being announced as the next Archbishop, is being seen as a potential “game-changer”.

He is understood to be spending much of this weekend drafting his speech, striking a balance between saying that it is time for the Church to move on and offering assurances to those with theological objections to women bishops that there will be proper “provision” for them.

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