Justin Welby is certainly a bold chap: I understand the man set to take over from Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury is due to meet MPs and peers on Thursday to discuss their concerns about women bishops.
I’ve picked up a flyer for the morning meeting in the House of Lords, where the current Bishop of Durham will ‘discuss concerns of members regarding Women Bishops’. Chairing the meeting will be Sir Tony Baldry MP and the Bishop of Leicester, Tim Stevens, who is also the Convenor of the Bishops in the House of Lords.
It’s likely to be an extremely well-attended meeting, especially given some politicians have been pushing for the Church of England to be banned from making further appointments to the House of Lords until the issue of women bishops is resolved. An e-petition calling for the government to remove the automatic right to seats in the House of Lords from the church has reached 10,200 signatures. David Cameron, meanwhile, has called on the CofE to bring forward its next vote on the matter to before 2015.
Welby himself supports the appointment of women as bishops, as do the majority of the bishops and clergy. One of the questions that peers will doubtless wish to ask him will be over procedure: will he consider changing the way the General Synod’s electoral college works? Currently two thirds of the House of Laity needs to approve the measure, which meant that while a majority did still vote in its favour in November, there were insufficient numbers to pass it.