WOMEN priests have every right to be bishops but not at the cost of dividing the church, the city’s own bishop has said.

Bishop of Worcester the Rt Rev Dr John Inge said he “wholeheartedly supports the ordination of women bishops” as the Church of England senior clergy and bishops meet this week to debate the issue at the General Synod in London.

The Anglican church in England currently does not allow women priests to become bishops. The issue has been divisive among senior church people.

Bishop John said he backed changes to church law which would allow women priests to be bishops, saying he “earnestly hoped the legislation will go through”, adding: “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have women bishops.”

This week he will be among 48 bishops and about 400 priests and laity debating a draft seen as a compromise between those who support the change and those who oppose.

Under the plan, the ordinations will be allowed but those who feel they cannot accept a woman bishop can deal with a male co-bishop in their diocese instead.

Bishop John said although he was fully in favour of the change, the church was “a 2,000-year-old institution” and transition was a steady process.

“Although there are people elsewhere in the country against this, the huge majority of people in Worcestershire are in favour of the change. Of the 200 priests in Worcestershire I would say two or three would have a problem with the changes. It is a tiny minority.

“But it is always a good thing for the church to move together.

“Looking at the splits in the church in the past, those splits have not always happened for good reasons.

“I have some sympathy with those who say they do not think it is a good idea. This idea is a very recent development, while the church is 2,000 year old.”

A draft will be considered at the meeting at Westminster this week but the vote on any change will happen at the General Synod meeting in July at York.